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.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Colnect Collectors Club Thanksgiving Gift - THREE New Categories - Transportation Tickets, Hotel Key Cards and Bank Cards

Colnect is proud to announce the much-anticipated expansion of its catalogs, as collectors can now trade and manage their collections in 3 new categories: bank cards, hotel key cards, and transportation tickets. These new additions further enhance the overall variety available on Colnect and will help it appeal to an even greater number of collectors.

If you or a friend collect any of these items, feel free to check out our new online wiki catalog for bank cards, hotel key cards, and transportation tickets. You can easily start managing your personal collection on Colnect using these catalogs and easily make exchanges with other collectors.

While these categories will initially offer relatively small catalogs, they will grow over time thanks to the generous help of our dedicated collectors.

Our bank card catalog, which has launched with a few hundred items, was made possible through the tireless work of a single Colnect collector, Hendy Florez [hflorez] .

Similarly, our hotel key card catalog was contributed by the devoted efforts Colnect member Ignacio F López Vico [iflvico] and presently features 244 cards. Ignacio is also the coordinator of our world's biggest phone cards catalog and has so far tremendously helped Colnect.

And last but surely not least, Gary Hoff [gazzaoz] was responsible for creating our transportation ticket catalog that currently has 222 items now viewable on the site with all the others.



Although the work of these 3 Colnect collectors is especially noteworthy, Colnect would like to thank all the volunteer contributors who continue to ensure that our freely available collectible catalogs as comprehensive and up-to-date as they are.

If you have any suggestions for future new categories, please read here.

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 recently-created tea bag catalog is growing rapidly and now has over 1,744 tea bags from 43 countries displayed.

So what about more categories? Well, YOU can help.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

World's Biggest Phone Cards Catalogs Now Has Over 200,000 Phonecards Listed!



Colnect's comprehensive catalogs reached yet another milestone today, as 200,000 phonecards have now been uploaded onto the site. Perhaps even more impressively, over 4,444 phonecards were added by dedicated phone card collectors and contributors in the past month alone. More phone card collectors enjoy Colnect, with over 400 collectors currently having at least 1,000 phonecards marked in their collection (and many more with smaller but still sizable inventories). Brazil, with over 50,000 phone cards listed, is now by far the largest source of these phone cards.

Our phone card catalog is only as big and as extensive due the continuing work of contributing collectors who help us make it the best catalog out there. We would like to extend our gratitue to each and every one of and especially to our phone card coordinator, Ignacio F López Vico [iflvico].

Sunday, November 22, 2009

80,000 Stamps on Colnect's Free Stamp Catalog


Colnect's continually growing stamp catalog has eclipsed a new milestone, as 80,000 stamps are now featured on the site! This milestone could not have been reached without the unwavering support of stamp collectors and contributors, who are constantly adding to and updating the catalogs to provide the best collection experience possible. Colnect catalogs will continue to improve on the most extensive variety of collectibles through expansion into new categories and the ongoing enhancement of existing ones.

During the last month, over 4,000 stamps were added and we've like to use the opportunity to thank the collectors who have helped out by contributing content and especially to our stamps coordinator, Fabian Eicke.

Monday, November 16, 2009

3,440,000 Pages Indexed on Google - 7,000 Collectors Are Members

Colnect has reached a new milestone today by eclipsing the 7,000 collectors mark! This lucky milestone X 1000 indicates that Colnect continues to grow and reach new heights. At this rate, it won't be long before Colnect challenges E-Bay as the web's most popular collectibles site.

Remember: You can help Colnect grow while also earning money for yourself through our affiliates program.



We're also happy to let you know that Colnect has over 3.4 million pages indexed on Google. As more collectors on Colnect help out improving Colnect's catalogs by adding items, the amount of pages offered by Colnect is growing quickly.

Happy collecting! :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Colnect's Founder Speaks With Leadel.NET

This interview has been done a couple of months ago and published yesterday. At the time, Colnect had ~4,200 collectors and today we are nearly 7,000 strong. There are a lot of references to Colnect's winning the Startup2.0 competition but it also goes over what Colnect is and is trying to achieve.

You're welcomed to comment here or on YouTube. Enjoy :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Colnect Finalizes the Acquisition of E-Bay (as confirmed on LinkedIn)

Colnect expanded its market reach today by acquiring the on-line startup E-Bay, in a move designed to solidify its place atop the collectibles market. The transaction was confirmed on LinkedIn, with Amir Wald taking over immediately as E-Bay's Chairman of the Board and CEO. Although the acquisition is expected to increase traffic to Colnect slightly, the real long-term benefits lie in the potential of using the Colnect brand name to rejuvenate E-Bay's (and several of its subsidiaries) fledgling operations and to eventually turn them into profitable ventures with high traffic.



Now seriously: Linked-In should fix this bug ASAP.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

AdSense Revenues vs. Traffic

Should more traffic bring more revenues on AdSense? Read on and you might be surprised.

Colnect is a content-rich website for collectors of stamps, coins, banknotes, Phone Cards, Bottle Caps and Tea Bags.

We use Google Analytics to measure our traffic and it's connected to the AdSense account. A comparison of Colnect's statistics for September-October 2009 reveal that in comparison to the 61 days before them, there has been a rise of 31% in AdSense Page Impressions, 36% in AdSense Unit Impressions but ONLY 3.3% in AdSense Revenues!!!

Yes, you are reading these statistics correctly. Correlation between the rise in traffic and in revenues is almost non-existent. A few reasons come to mind but let's start with your comments on the subject. What do you think?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Collectors on FaceBook

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

Collectors from all around the world, even those not familiar with Colnect and how unique it is, are welcomed to view Colnect's fan page on FaceBook:


Special November Promotion


You can get FREE premium membership for 1 month. No payment details needed. Share your Colnect profile on your FaceBook wall and ask us for FREE membership.

Friday, October 30, 2009

6,666 collectors - 46,666 monthly visitors - 2,123,456 page views



Maybe others like to present their statistics in round numbers, but not on Colnect. Just about 2 months ago, there were 5,555 collectors who became Colnect members and now we've crossed the 6,666 mark. That's exactly 20% growth, which is unfortunately a round number ;)

Traffic from non-registered members has also grown considerably since we last reported. Over 2,123,456 pages of Colnect were presented to more than 46,666 unique visitors during the last 30 days. This is a growth of approximately 7.77% and 5.43% from the previous 30 days.

Why Should You Care?



Collector? The more Colnect members there are, the more possibilities to find other collectors to trade with. More collectors are updating our catalogs constantly.

Dealer? The more Colnect members there are, the more... OK, you already know what that means.

Advertiser? More than ever, now you can easily address a highly targeted crowd of collectors. Check our advertising page.


Why is Colnect Growing?



Colnect's website, our main product, has been constantly improving. Responding to demands by collectors, the system is becoming easier and more functional to use. This encourages "word of mouth" viral spreading. Yes, it's a bit of a pat on the back but we know there's still a lot of work ahead.
Since the winning of the Startup2.0 competition, media attention has helped the growth as well.
Some non-professional SEO has helped as well. Colnect contains a lot of original content and should be favored by search engines, given that they are properly presented with it. As the content of Colnect's catalogs is constantly growing (soon we'll cross the 200,000 phonecards mark), search engines have more Colnect pages to index.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Over 2 Million Monthly Page Views

As previously reported, Colnect's traffic keeps growing nicely and we've recently passed the mark of over 2 Million page views during the last 30 days. As new collectors join Colnect and discover how it benefits them, existing members use the site extensively to manage their personal collection, which explains the rise in seen page views. This increase in site use is much bigger than the increase in page views since many actions which formerly required the whole page to be refreshed are now easily performed with Ajax requests and are thus NOT counted as page views anymore.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

6,000 Registered Collectors on Colnect - Over 44,000 People Visited Colnect Last Month

During the last month, over 44,000 people have visited Colnect. Colnect's community has been growing rapidly recently and we're now over 6,000 collectors, coming from 98 different countries and using Colnect in 38 languages. Less than two month ago Colnect has passed the 5,000 collectors mark and the road to 7,000 is expected to be shorter :)

Colnect enables collectors to easily manage their personal collection and coordinate swaps ans sales. Many collectors choose to display their collections on Colnect and so you can easily see our active Stamp collectors, Coin collectors, Banknote collectors, Bottle Cap collectors and Phonecard collectors.

In addition to Colnect's unique services to collectors, it offers relevant social networking features to allow members to communicate, become friends, rate each other and more.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Opera 10 is Opera 9.8?! A user-agent Identity Crisis

Opera 10 has been released and naturally Colnect has to be tested with it. Although all of today's browsers are "complaint", they all produce different results for the same pages.

On Colnect, there are CSS pop-up menus for both the top menu and side menu. Perhaps not the best design decision, they are yet very functional to members browsing the site. So far, only Internet Explorer (IE) was not responding properly to the top menus. IE6 or lesser doesn't support them. IE7 does support them but displays them in the wrong position for right-to-left languages. IE8 does the job properly, as well as FireFox, Chrome and Opera. Actually, that was until the new Opera 10 came out and now the right-to-left languages display the popup CSS menus displaced and unusable. Only on Opera 10 the side menu pop-ups now have problems as well.

To ensure people choosing problematic browsers don't suffer, Colnect's code checks the browser by using its USER-AGENT string. When a problematic browser is encountered, the pop-up menus will simply not appear. That's how I found out that the brand new Opera 10 tells web server it's actually Opera 9.8 engine. See for yourself:



Identity crisis for Opera?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

29% More People Watching Colnect on August! :)

Colnect is gaining some great traction. August 2009 had very good results. Below is a report from Google Analytics tracking usage of Colnect:

Over 1.8 million page views
During August 2009, Colnect has been visited by over 40,000 people watching more than 1,800,000 pages Colnect. This is a traffic growth of nearly 30% and 20% respectively compared to the previous month.

In addition, the number of registered members on Colnect grew by 10.6% on August, reaching 5,651 members on September 1st.

Why is Colnect Growing?


Colnect's website, its main product, has been constantly improving. Responding to demands by collectors, the system is becoming easier and more functional to use. Some annoying bugs have been fixed as well. This encourages "word of mouth" viral spreading. Yes, it's a bit of a pat on the back but we know there's still a lot of work ahead.
Since the winning of the Startup2.0 competition, media attention has helped the growth as well.
Some non-professional SEO has helped as well. Colnect contains a lot of original content and should be favored by search engines, given that they are properly presented with it. As the content of Colnect's catalogs is constantly growing, search engines have more Colnect pages to index.
But not all efforts were productive. These two paths followed with high hopes for incoming traffic yielded poor results: the ads on TechCrunch (Colnect's prize of the Startup2.0 competition) and Colnect's Twitter activity. Both brought a meager amount of incoming traffic with a relatively very high bounce rate, i.e users watching a single page and leaving.

Future Plans


Many planned product improvements will provide useful additional features and an overall better user experience. Many direct requests from collectors enjoying Colnect, usually the more "addicted" members, help us decide where we should be heading next.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Colnect advertising on TechCrunch - the results

As promised previously, this post will reveal the results of Colnect's advertising on TechCrunch.

A short reminder: a couple of months ago, Colnect, a unique website for collectors, has won the Startup2.0 competition in Spain. The prize chosen was an advertisement space on TechCrunch, a world known technology blog. Revealing Colnect's results may perhaps assist those who wish to make a decision on whether or not advertising on TechCrunch would be beneficial to their business.

Horrible Service
Based on our email correspondence:
* It took 1.5 months (!!!) for TechCrunch to start running Colnect's ad although it was told that they'll run it as soon as they get it. A fair share of emails were sent throughout that time and got royally ignored.
* It was told the the ads rotate randomly. The ads on TechCrunch do not rotate randomly. Either something is broken on the ad system or it's intentional. I checked hundreds of pages showing ads (at different times) and Colnect's ad never appeared on the top two rows (out of 5 rows). When repeatedly asked about it, the only answer was that they'll get back to me on it. As a compensation, they ran my ad an extra week and again promised an answer. However, until now no such answer has been received.

The Results
One last important note before revealing the results. Colnect is a unique website for collectors and TechCrunch is a technology blog. A tech-related ad on TechCrunch would probably have faired better.

Colnect's ad ran for 2 weeks and, according to Google Analytics, resulted in 800 visits with a really high bounce rate (visits that leave the site after one page) of 58%. According to my server stats there have been 1,319 total clicks on Colnect's ad coming from 990 distinct IP addresses.

Feel free to comment here if you have any questions.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Collecting Tea Bags? Colnect presents the world's first Tea Bags catalog for collectors


Tea Bags are now available on Colnect and collectors from around the world can manage their personal collection using the catalog offered on Colnect.

If you're a tea bags collector, have friends who collect tea bags or are just curious about this unique collectible, feel welcomed to browse Colnect's online wiki catalog for tea bags - the world's first!

Colnect's catalogs are created by volunteering collectors and updated constantly. Our world-unique catalog of tea bags, already with over 500 tea bags, has been contributed by one member of Colnect, Carine De Pauw [crookscarine].

Any mass-produced collectibles that collectors frequently swap, but and sell are most welcomed on Colnect and you can easily add your favorite collectibles category.

Currently, 116 collectors have already helped out to create Colnect's catalogs.

Colnect's phone card catalog is the world's most extensive, currently with over 191,000 phone cards listed! Colnect's coin catalog is the world's biggest free coins catalog, presenting over 16,000 coins. Colnect's stamp catalog is growing quickly and already has over 74,000 stamps listed. Our extensive banknote catalog lists over 16,000 banknotes and our bottle cap catalog has recently grown to nearly 11,000 bottle caps.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

5,555 Collectors on Colnect

Colnect's community has been growing very nicely recently and we're now 5,555 collectors, coming from 88 countries and using Colnect in 38 languages. Less than a month ago Colnect has passed the 5,000 collectors mark and so we're experiencing a growth of over 11% in a month!

Colnect enables collectors to easily manage their personal collection and coordinate swaps ans sales. Many collectors choose to display their collections on Colnect and so you can easily see our active Stamp collectors, Coin collectors, Banknote collectors, Bottle Cap collectors and Phonecard collectors.

In addition to Colnect's unique services to collectors, it offers relevant social networking features to allow members to communicate, become friends, rate each other and more.

Editing Collectors: Improved Interface

Colnect's wiki-like collectibles catalogs are growing quickly with the assistance off volunteering contributing collectors who send information missing in the catalogs and volunteering editing collectors (or simply "editors") who make the actual changes to the catalogs, guaranteeing their quality .

The editing interface used by the editors is very simple. A small editing icon is present near all fields they can edit and by clicking it a window pops up which allows them to set the new value. Every item edited generated an immediate tweet on @ColnectEdits. Seems that due to the volume of edits, Twitter no longer indexes any tweets by @ColnectEdits.



An important improvement of the interface has just been announced and accepted with enthusiasm by some the editors. Using JavaScript, the page is no longer reloaded after each edit. It's a simple change but saves editors a lot of time and thus encourages them to do more edits. As it's not so complex to implement, I wonder why much great endeavors than Colnect, such as WikiPedia have not yet something similar (or better).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bottle Caps Catalog - Doubled in Size!



During the last few days, Colnect's bottle cap catalog has doubled its size. There are currently nearly 11,000 bottle caps listed. Many thanks go to Art Zhitnik who has contributed the information based on his own bottle cap collection. Art has created a bottle cap cataloging software, Caps Navigator, which allows bottle cap collectors to create their own database. Due to his organized contribution to Colnect, other collectors will be able to use the pictures and information to easily manage their personal collection on Colnect.

Since the information is of Art's own collection, editors on Colnect will now work on "merging" duplicate items. It's a very common task on Colnect's wiki-catalogs since it happens that some items are accidentally added more than once. When two items are "merged", the inventory information is kept. So, for example, if a collector marked either of the items on his wish list, the "merged" item will be on his wish list.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cheating Collectors NOT Welcomed on Colnect

As much as I dislike getting involved in disputes among collectors on Colnect, it is sometimes inevitable. Cheaters are a big problem and I believe that with keeping to some simple rules, frauds can be minimized. For the reason I have created the Swapping Tips page ~3 weeks ago.

Here are some recent changes to Colnect meant to reduce the number of cheaters:

Monday, August 17, 2009

Collectors List Improvements

A long awaited fix to Colnect's collectors list has finally been implemented. As collectors on Colnect may collect different types of collectibles, it's important to see who collects what. The collectors list (see below) now shows it clearly.



In addition, an easy-to-use pop-up selection now allows to filter by collectors of a certain collectible, for example coin collectors or stamp collectors.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Colnect advertising on TechCrunch

Do you want to know how effective advertising on TechCrunch is?

A few months ago, Colnect has won the Startup2.0 competition in Spain. The prize chosen was an advertisement space on TechCrunch, a world known technology blog.

Though it took way too long time (most of which was not my fault), the following ad is now finally displayed:



It will run for a week (started 2 days ago) and I will report how many clicks on it were made. This information may be interesting for those considering advertising on TechCrunch, as it's seemingly quite expensive in comparison to Google's AdWords.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Colnect has sitelinks on Google

Google sitelinks are links shown under some sites in a search results page.

Colnect now finally has sitelinks as the following image shows:



To see how it looks now, simply Google: Colnect.

They are supposed to be somewhat helpful in convincing users to click on one of your results and so that's good news for Colnect. I'd like to accredit it to some recent SEO efforts I've made but the truth is one never really knows...

The odd thing is how these links are chosen by Google's "automatic" process. The words chosen for quicklinks are "Stamps", "Phonecards", "Countries" and "Monedas".
The first two seem a perfect choice as they frequently appear on Colnect and are really a part of what the site is all about. The last two are quite a weird twist of Google's algorithm as "Countries" actually refers to the Banknote catalog - countries list on Colnect and the second one goes to the Spanish version of the coins page, rather than the English one.

Any tips on how their "automatic" algorithm works and how I could optimize for it would be appreciated. Until then, I am, as most, at the mercy of the Google gods.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Collectors on Colnect - over 5,000

Colnect Colnect has passed the mark of 5,000 registered collectors. This is an increase of over 45% from 5 months ago. Considering the lack of true marketing efforts, it is an impressive achievement.

How do collectors learn about Colnect?


As Colnect allows collectors to manage their personal collection and semi-automatically manage swaps with other collectors from around the world, it's the collectors' own interest to have their collector friends join the site. Why would a collector go through the swap and wish lists of another collector manually when a match to his own lists can be done with a click?

So what's next?


Colnect will expand to more collectible fields as requests come from existing members of the community. There are currently already 5 categories (stamps, coins, paper money, phone cards and bottle caps) and a few more are now being worked on by collectors.
Additional services, most of which were requested by the community, are being implemented and will soon be announced.

Happy collecting :)

Monday, July 13, 2009

The World's Biggest Phone Card Catalog lists over 186,000 phone cards

Happy to announce that Colnect's phone cards catalog, the world's most-extensive phone card catalogs, has now over 186,000 phone cards listed in it.

Amazingly, the catalog keeps growing faster than before, with over 27,000 phone card listed during the last 30 days. By the time you read this post the number 186,000 may already be obsolete.

Colnect's catalog is an endeavor of many collectors from all over the world who constantly work improve it.

Using Colnect's catalog, collectors from around the world can easily manage their personal collection on Colnect and find swap buddies from around the world.

Special thanks goes to all the contributors, editors and translators of Colnect.

Happy collecting :)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Google Follows Colnect and Takes off the BETA

In a previous post about what beta means, I've shared my opinion about Google abusing the BETA mark as to render it almost meaningless, as their example was followed by many other companies in the industry. I've decided that Colnect will not follow and remove its BETA mark as the system became widely used by real users.

Now it seems that Google decided to follow Colnect's way and remove the BETA: "We're taking the beta label off of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk to remove any doubt that Apps is a mature product suite.".

Yes Google, it's about time!

To those who didn't follow the humor, I doubt it that the post on Colnect's blog made the difference to Google but it's funnier to think that it did :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson's Death - Will More Collectibles Be Issued?


Michael Jackson's recent death seemed to have affected many people around the globe. Surely a celebrity of great magnitude, as you can see there are phone cards where Michael Jackson appears on Colnect. Interestingly enough, no stamps or coins were issued with him. Any idea why?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Collectibles tweets with Twitter

Updates done on Colnect may be found on Twitter. For all collectibles added to Colnect see @ColnectCatalogs. For all edits done by our editors see: @ColnectEdits. General news are sometimes posted on @Colnect but this blog you are reading is more in-depth.


Do you have a Twitter account? Would you like automated tweets in your account about favorite collectibles? Send a direct message to @Colnect

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Collectors Welcomed - A New Welcome Page on Colnect + Usability Issues

Colnect has been said of having an ugly user interface that doesn't fit the cool Web2.0 scene. So in the last week I've been working on many usability issues trying to improve how collectors interact with Colnect. To compliment these additions a new welcome page now greets new comers. Below these pictures you'll find what has really changed lately.







Natural sorting is not straight forward on computer system. When sorting the numbers 1 to 10, too many computer programs will start with 1 10 2 instead of the natural 1 2 3. As natural sorting is not supported by the database, I sought different options for sorting catalog codes which may be anything like P-11b, XPK-987-33, Km#12.11 and whichever combination you may consider. So what is currently done is that all numbers are padded with spaces to some set length and so the database knows how to sort them properly. Don't worry, it's not the original information just a copy of it used for quick searching and sorting.

Another issue now settled is that of searching by 'Name'. This was my mistake to begin with as 'Name' on coin countries list, for example, would search a country name and on the main coins page would search a coin name. Now proper pages would have both "Coin name" and "Country name" search so prevent confusion.

A few duplicate catalogs and duplicate series have been merged using a newly duplicates processing script which would make it easy for editors to report such duplicates and process them.

On the multiple-language front an important change has been made. A user that has never visited Colnect will now have his default language according to his country (conferred by the IP address). That is, of course, if it's one of the 35 languages supported by Colnect. Once a user sets a different language, it's remembered and all subsequent URLs would contain the language letters. So even if a German-speaking collector send a /de/ URL to his Spanish-speaking friend, it'll be converted to /es/ for the Spanish-speaker.

And finally, a new improved welcome page is supposed to make more sense than the previous one. Yes, usability and design have to be re-thought and re-made on Colnect but there's nothing quite as bad as a horrible first impression, so here we go...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Google Page Speed vs. Yahoo YSlow

Google has announced Page Speed, a FireFox add-on that will help optimizing your website. Obviously competing with Yahoo's YSlow tool, it's worth it to check out what Google think their do better and help further optimizing Colnect Collectors Community.

A funny first thing I've noticed was the comments Page Speed gave on its own guide page. Maybe it's time for Google to start using their tool ;)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Colnect's Alexa Ratings goes up up up...


A previous post about Colnect's ratings on Alexa had been posted about 4 months ago. Colnect's Alexa ratings had kept climbing through the time and
now standing at ~103,000, whereas ~4 months ago it was ~184,000, ~7 months ago it was at ~360,000 and ~9 months ago ~500,000. Climbing up from now on will probably be slower on the absolute numbers but not on the actual traffic which keeps growing and growing as Colnect is offering its services to new crowds of banknotes collectors and bottle caps collectors.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Banknotes and Bottle Caps Google Gadgets

Do you see the random collectibles on the side of this blog? These are Colnect's iGoogle gadgets.

Following the recent addition of banknotes and bottle caps to Colnect, the matching Google Gadgets, showing a random collectible, are now available.




They can easily be added to your iGoogle page, blog or website using following URIs.

Banknotes:
http://colnect.com/integrations/google_gadget/collectibles/banknotes

Bottle Caps:
http://colnect.com/integrations/google_gadget/collectibles/bottlecaps

The previous gadgets are also available:

Coins:
http://colnect.com/integrations/google_gadget/collectibles/coins

Stamps:
http://colnect.com/integrations/google_gadget/collectibles/stamps

Phone Cards:
http://colnect.com/integrations/google_gadget/collectibles/phonecards

Friday, May 29, 2009

Banknotes for Collectors on Colnect


Banknotes are now available on Colnect and collectors from around the world can manage their personal collection using the catalog offered on Colnect, already with over 15,000 banknotes.

New categories can be added to Colnect and if you're a collector of any mass-produced collectible you are most welcomed to help and add your favorite collectibles.

Over a hundred collectors have helped out to create Colnect's catalogs.

Colnect's phonecards catalog is the world's most extensive, currently with ~157,000 phone cards listed. Colnect's coins catalog is the world's biggest free coins catalog, currently with ~15,000 coins. Colnect's stamps catalog is growing quickly and already has over 68,000 stamps listed. Colnect's new bottle caps catalog already has ~5,400 bottle caps listed.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Collectible Bottle Caps for Collectors on Colnect


Bottle caps are now available on Colnect and collectors from around the world can manage their personal collection using the catalog offered on Colnect.

Colnect's catalogs are created by volunteering collectors and updated constantly. The initial catalog of bottle caps, already with over 5,000 bottle caps, has been contributed by one member of Colnect, Paul Giba.

More categories will soon be added to Colnect and if you're a collector of any mass-produced collectible you are most welcomed to help and add your favorite collectibles.

Over a hundred collectors have helped out to create Colnect's catalogs.

Colnect's phonecards catalog is the world's most extensive, currently with over 155,000 phone cards listed. Colnect's coins catalog is the world's biggest free coins catalog, currently with over 14,000 coins. Colnect's stamps catalog is growing quickly and already has over 68,000 stamps listed.

Friday, May 8, 2009

How Colnect's Winning Pitch Was Made

Colnect had surprisingly won the Startup2.0 competition in Bilbao, Spain. Out of ~160 companies, 11 made it to the finals where each company had 3 minutes to pitch and 4 more minutes for Q&A. This post will describe what I consider the key points that have made Colnect's pitch stand out and perhaps one of the reasons for Colnect winning the competition.

Planning


Perhaps 3 minutes don't seem like a lot of time but consider that some "elevator pitches" last only 40 seconds, so 3 minutes is a lot. In my opinion, a major mistake is to try and showcase all you have in a short amount of time. When time is of the essence the aim is to impress. So the initial plan was to use the 3 minutes to give a basic introduction and impress the audience without getting into any details. Considering the fact that 11 companies were going to display, Colnect would have to stand out.

Promotional Video


If you haven't watched it yet, you should now:



The idea to use puppets for the video came from my brother Ofer and help in creating the video came from my friend Matan and his friend Eric.

Impressive key points were emphasized in the video:
* Colnect's availability in 35 languages.
* Colnect having a great community with over a hundred volunteers.
* Colnect answering a real need for collectors - its target market.

Q&A



Intentionally, I have not answered the most common questions (business model, current status, competition, etc.) in my 3 minutes part. I guessed that it would mean I'd get to be asked these questions rather than (potentially hazardous) unexpected questions or (much worse) no questions. Detailed answers to the common questions were prepared and I could use my "cheat sheet" in answering the jury's questions.

As a minor gimmick, I put on the frog puppet (Frognector) from the video on my hand while the video was being watched and as the video finished showing, I opened with: "Frognector is now available to answer your questions". I actually expected a bit more laughs but I'm sure it attracted attention to myself. Some of the jury members were using their laptops paying half (or less) attention on other presentations. My "bending the rules" a bit ensured more attention. Though I risked being seen as a joker, I believed that the ready made answers would make up for any such impression.

Aftermath



Not that a good presentation would necessarily take you where you want to go but a bad presentation will most likely NEVER take you where you want. Try to think who your target crowd is and how they would look at it. For example: when doing a 1on1 meeting the gimmicks may be completely stupid but when you need to stand out from the rest, they're probably essential.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Colnect wins Startup2.0 competition!!! nonick 2009, Bilbao, Spain

An astounding surprise, Colnect has won Statrup2.0 competition held as a part of the nonick conference in Bilbao, Spain.

Startup2.0 featured ~160 companies from all over Europe, of which 11 companies made it to the finals. All members of the jury unanimously voted for Colnect! The greatness of the achievement is even more vivid in the light of the grave difference between Colnect and most other contenders. Colnect has never received any funding and has been run solely by its single founder, Amir Wald, also writing this post.

Second place went to Genoom from Spain, a social networking platform designed to build private family networks. Third place went to Twidox from Germany, a free, user generated library of ‘quality’ documents that allows individuals and organizations to easily publish, distribute, share, and discover them.

Official announcements are found here and here.

Colnect's new promotional video, created for the competition, was met with spontaneous ovation from the crowd. Here it is:


Colnect's founder, Amir Wald, receiving the award:


More personal notes about the event will soon be published. Thanks to everyone organizing, participating and supporting Colnect.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Colnect got the the finals on Startup 2.0 2009

Colnect was chosen as one of the finalists to compete on Startup 2.0 competition to be held 24-25/April in Bilbao, Spain.

This year, 157 start ups participated, of which 11 were chosen to present in Bilbao. Three of those will win by a jury's decision. Though I believe Colnect is an extremely unique, interesting and useful project, its lack of any external funding may make it a little rough of the edges and so I'm lowering my expectations (though not my enthusiasm) in advance. Not many stay awestruck and drooling when seeing the intelligent special girl walking on the beach, most reserve their saliva for the fit hottie in bikini ;)

From their site: "
Startup2.0 is a competition of European web 2.0 sites whose objectives are to promote and reward the European startups (either created or willing to do so in the future) that work in the field of 2.0 technologies."

UPDATE: The finalists announced here

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Paypal + Unicode - part 2

A previous post here was showing problems occurring by PayPal's inability to receive UTF-8 encoding. Although I still consider it a major PayPal fault, it may be possible to override this bug by setting your site's encoding on your PayPal account. When you find the 'Edit Profile' link under 'Account' tab when logged in, there should be a link to change your language encoding. It's not very noticeable but it's there. I haven't tested it and prefer not to use non-English alphabet in the value part of the input.



Good luck :)

Invalid URL Requests From Legitimate Bots

In a former post I've mentioned that I have no idea how come invalid URLs for which no link on the site (nor sitemap) exists are being tried by legitimate bots such as GoogleBot.

Now I have a partial answer for the non existing URLs presented in the post. Some time ago, a twitter account for Colnect editors has been opened @ColnectEdits. It automatically twits about edits done on Colnect's catalogs so that other collectors may track it.



An interesting thing that you can see in the attached picture is the the links generated by the tweets are shown as http://colnect.com/en/phone... but actually do link to the correct full URLs, such as http://colnect.com/en/phonecards/item/id/9212. So it seems that the web crawlers read both as legitimate URLs and try to fetch them. Since it seems GoogleBot does not want to learn that /en/phone returns 404 from Colnect, I am now forced to add these as legitimate URLs to my site to avoid seeing more 404s in my logs. Oh well...

Phone cards catalog: biggest, most extensive, free

Happy to announce that Colnect's phone cards catalog, the world's most-extensive phone cards catalogs, has now over 150,000 phone cards listed in it.

Colnect's catalog is an endeavor of many collectors from around the world who constantly improve it.

Using Colnect's catalog, collectors from around the world can easily manage their personal collection on Colnect and find swap buddies from around the world.

Special thanks goes to all the contributors, editors and translators of Colnect.

Happy collecting :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

PayPal + Unicode ==> No Payment

So you got your PayPal merchant account for your awesome website and have created a nice button to allow members to receive the amazing premium paid services you've made for them. You create the button code using the wizard supplied on PayPal's site to ensure nothing goes wrong. Oh, your site is multilingual? Yes, so please create another button for every language. No, we cover only some of those on your site. PayPal hasn't enough resources to translate itself to all popular languages. It's probably not making as much money as Colnect that can afford to be translated to 35 languages.

So the button is on the site and you test it. It works. Hurray! That wasn't too hard. But hey, are you going to test each option on the button in each language? Yes, you should but it seems fine and PayPal is a serious website. Right? WRONG!

A member who tries to pay money is faced with this beautiful message: "PayPal cannot process this transaction because of a problem with the seller's website. Please contact the seller directly to resolve this problem."



Though you might expect PayPal to alert you when such an event happens that is obviously your fault, it never happens. You may keep wondering how much business you've lost due to this fuck up. Well, you made the mistake so you suffer the consequences. Right? WRONG!

The problem is that PayPal's server has some problem with unicode encoding. You have used the Euro sign and dared send it to their server. Your site has a problem. You have a problem. Don't you know that Euro signs are bad? The wizard that generated your code thought of letting you know it but than decided you should learn it the hard way. The hard way would be to go through technical support with a person who obviously doesn't know very much about all the relevant Internet technologies and tells you it's your fault again. It's your page header, it's your CSS (WTF?!?!), it's your bad browser cookies.

You finally create another button without the Euro sign and find out that it wasn't you after all. It was them. It is them. PayPal screwed it up. But it's your fault, you chose to use their services...



The author of this post is not affiliated with PayPal or any other similar service. The story is true. I keep being amazed at how unprofessional PayPal is. Your comments welcomed.

PayPal Opinion

The reason I'm not going to write "PayPal sucks" is probably because they seem to be somewhat better than the competition when it comes to receiving payments from around the world in a secure way. I do plan on trying MoneyBookers as well and it seems that other competitors either take hefty fees (WorldPay want 200GBP set-up fee...) and/or are limited in currencies and countries of availability.

So here's are some of the problems of PayPal for my website for collectors:

* Fees. Though almost anywhere on their site they publish the fees to be up to 3.4%, a closer examination reveals 3.9% for "cross-border" transactions (I'm sure the guy who made that bs up got a great bonus afterwards) plus a good 2.5% spread on currency conversion. So we're getting to 6.3% WITHOUT mentioning the fee per transaction and withdrawl fee.

* Support. My worst support experiences ever. Customer support first reply was always automated and faintly related to the question. Subsequent replies were never helpful. Technical support was lacking technical knowledge and misdirected me more than helping.

* Site Usability. They could have done a much better job at that. Navigation is horrible and sessions often expire. Many times I got sporadic server errors.

For the finishing paragraph I'll write the good things: setup was relatively painless and PayPal is popular and thus consumers feel secure using it.

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