Brain Clutter

August 14, 2007

Speeling Mystakes on teh Webb: Domain Name Creativity

Filed under: branding, business, domain squatting, online marketing, seo, web, web 2.0 — brainclutter @ 2:52 pm

If the Internet was taking a primary/junior English class, it would be failing miserably…

Flickr logo from Fontshop

Let’s ignore for the moment, that email, instant/text messaging, and blogging are major contributers to the decline in English spelling, grammar, and proper punctuation. Let’s ignore that many of these mistakes are unintentional, and usually made in haste or to hasten communications due to the fast pace of the electronic age we live in (or having to type on impossibly small Blackberry keypads).

Instead, why don’t we examine some misspelled and oddly fabricated names in the realm of today’s domain names?

Rather than being unintentional misspellings, these errors are very intentional. Why? To put it simply, all (i.e. most of) the good domain names are taken and companies are required to get creative if they want to stamp their presence on the Web! In other words, new startups seeking usable domain names are forced to McGyver some interesting solutions nowadays:

  1. Scoop up a newly released domain name (this almost never happens).
  2. Think outside the box and critically enough to actually find an unused domain name that accurately depicts your service (this happens even less frequently).
  3. Raise enough venture capital to buy out a pertinent domain name from some loathsome (i.e. smarter and more rich than I am) domain squatter.
  4. Purposefully misspell a word associated with their new company (e.g. Flikr instead of Flicker, Del.icio.us instead of Delicious, Froogle instead of Frugal, etc.)
  5. Make up some a really weird word that is memorable but not necessarily related to the service at all (e.g. bebo for social networking, skype for Internet phone service, xanga for a weblog community, zillow for real estate, etc.).
  6. Create a trendy mash up of matching words (feedburner, newsvine, yousendit, stylehive, etc.)
  7. Add the obligatory i or my prefix to a common word (iLike, MySpace, iJigg, MyBlogLog, etc.)

Are new businesses doomed? Only if they wish to preserve the sanctity of the English language! The days of truly SEO-friendly domain names are over my friends, but at least companies are thinking outside the box and coming up with some creative and memorable names to brand their businesses. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it odd, yet strangely telling of language evolution, that nouns (proper names) like Facebook, YouTube, and Google are actually becoming verbs (action words). Maybe it’s just the locomotion of the Internet at play…

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January 17, 2007

10% Growth in Overall Music Sales; Digital Track Sales Exceed 120% Growth

Filed under: business, music — brainclutter @ 4:33 pm

Nielson logo

Canadian Artists Nickelback and Bryan Adams Top the Airplay Charts; Nielsen Music 2006 Year End Music Industry Report For Canada

Nielsen SoundScan Canada, the entertainment industry’s data information system that tracks point-of-purchase sales of recorded music product and Nielsen BDS, the music industry’s leading music performance monitoring service, have announced their 2006 Canadian year-end sales and airplay monitoring data, for the 52-week period January 2, 2006 through December 31, 2006.

http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/January2007/17/c6663.html

Some 2006, year-end factiods:

  • Overall music purchases were up nearly 10% from 2005
  • Nearly 15 million digital tracks were purchased; an increase of 122% over 2005
  • The top 200 tracks accounted for nearly 20% of all track purchases; 2.8 million sales, note that this is consistent with 2005
  • Johnny Cash was the biggest selling artist with physical album sales surpassing 540,000
  • 34% of all albums purchased were at a Mass Merchant outlet compared to 29% in 2005
  • Chain music stores accounted for 66% of all album sales, compared to 71% in 2005
  • Classical and Country albums were the only two genres that gained in sales over 2005; up 21% and 15% respectively
  • Overall Album sales (including Albums and Track Equivalent Album sales) declined 3.2% compared to 2005
  • Total album sales declined 4.7% compared to 2005
  • The top two selling artists in Canada during the SoundScan era are both native Canadians; Celine Dion (6.2 million albums sold) and Shania Twain (4.2 million albums sold)
  • These same two artists have the biggest selling albums for Canada in the SoundScan era; Shania Twain’s “Come On Over” album has sold 1.9 million units and Celine Dion’s “Let’s Talk about Love” album has reached 1.5 million sales
  • Consistent with the previous two years, 25% of total album sales occurred during the Holiday Season (last 6 weeks of year).

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Just a note

Filed under: blogging, business, life, music, personal — brainclutter @ 12:35 pm

I’ll be starting up a new, targeted blog using the downloadable WordPress.org format and an external web host. The goal behind this new blog will be to bring viewers the latest and greatest information about audio recording, audio gadgets / new instruments, audio software, and new websites with a focus on music and sound. The secondary ambition is that once I establish a decent reader base, the blog will morph into a splog. This may or may not happen, but at least this new project will allow me to improve my writing skills while keeping current with audio news.

Finally, I hope to learn a bit more about web development with this custom WP install by adding a personalized theme, some widgets, and a few other nifty things.

I’ll update this post with a direct link to the site once it’s up.

This site will remain as my personal blog for everything else! 🙂

January 5, 2007

TechCrunch has cash to spare — introduces forums

Filed under: business, crunchgear, forum, jive, social networking, tech, techcrunch, web — brainclutter @ 10:55 am

TechCrunch logo

Things must be going pretty well over at TechCrunch for them to be able to afford a Jive forum worth thousands of dollars!

The new TechCrunch forum is a place for users to continue discussing hot articles that have dropped off the front page. It’s also a place where entreperneurs can plug their new start-up if they haven’t been lucky or newsworthy enough to warrant a spotlight article by Arrington or his staff. The idea itself is fantastic and solves the major catch-22 of popular, fast-paced blogs — They want discussion but when they post 12 articles per day and only display 5-10 on the home page, stories can quickly become “old news” and it’s less convenient for users to participate in active debate/speculation/whatever.

I don’t question the need for a forum — the need is obvious. What deserves speculation is their choice of software.

Firstly, take a look at Jive’s forum pricing chart:

Jive's pricing chart

Yowza… I’m unsure which version TC is using, but I’m guessing “Gold” because of their customized theme, a feature only available with the Gold package. Also, I’m not sure if they worked out an advertising deal with Jive but these prices are a bit steep when compared with open-source forum software or even a custom-built forum app. I live up in Canada (northwestern Ontario), where you could pay someone to build you a custom forum that would be just as feature-rich for a fraction of that price. Maybe “Valley” programmers/designers are in much higher demand and would therefore charge much more… I don’t know.

Next, look at the features of the Jive forum software. You can’t argue that Jive provides an amazingly rich feature set, but does TC require every single bit of functionality they provide? Multi-language support? Reporting? Workflow efficiency? These features are pretty darn cool, sure, but TC’s background is in BLOGGING. Comparing the feature set TC is used to with blogging to the micro-management tools available with their new forums is like comparing Meebo to Bebo… they just aren’t the same. Then again, perhaps TC has been frustrated with the lack of administrative options with their WordPress blog framework and welcomes all the itty-bitty details of the Jive forums.

Finally, let’s look at the decision to pay lucrative fees for a forum from a business perspective (if they did indeed have to pay). TC supposedly earns $10,000.00 per sponsored ad per month on their home page — $60,000.00 total per month (TechCrunch ad policy). With that kind of income, you probably need to write off as many business expenses as you can to reduce income, come tax-time (and hey, that time is just around the corner). Also, one of the big features of a Jive forum is the customer support they provide. When the solution to a problem is just a phone call/email away, it makes administration that much easier. Also, let’s face it — TechCrunch is in the business of reporting web/tech news; not building forums. While they could probably build their own forum without too much hassle in RoR/PhP, it would take time away from their primary focus of reporting cutting-edge news.

Also, let’s not forget the “bragging rights” a Jive forums enables your business. TC is now in a league with Apple and Sun in terms of their forum software… Can I get a Borat, “Wuw wuw wuw!?”

TC forums

One last thing I’d like to mention is that their forum article states that they “quietly launched a new area of the site.” Why would they “queitly” launch the forum and then post a front page article about it? Seems contradictory, no? Especially when you consider that their forum is in pretty rough shape right now — it lacks organization, proper theming, and users are reporting that their confirmation emails aren’t arriving in a timely manner. Maybe they wanted to generate buzz or maybe they wanted to conduct a “live beta.” If so, can I get another Borat, “Great success!?”

My suggestions for improvement:

  1. Create subcategories in the main forum (published articles, new startups, general discussion, etc.)
  2. Bring the theme more in-line with their visual identity (maybe it’s the designer in me talking, but the green in the header does not match the green they use over at TC).
  3. Use the “Reward System” to boost user participation… Come on… CrunchGear gives away lots of goodies! 😀

Bravo, TechCrunch for enabling yourself with a discussion solution for your extremely popular blog and generating a little controvery along the way… intended or not, it’s a great strategy. 😉

~Cheers

December 21, 2006

Hosting an MMORPG guild website

MMO Guildsites banner

I HAVE AN UPDATED REVIEW OF 3 NEW FEATURES HERE! Please note that there has been a policy change for their billing system, which I cover in my newest review.

This is not a paid advertisement – it’s a “friend”ly promotion! 😉

A couple good friends of mine from 8tasp.com finally put together their first major website — a service aimed to help host your MMORPG guild website. If you’re not interested in reading my review and would rather dive in to see for yourself, feel free to create a FREE trial or take their mini-tour.

On with the show…

As stated above, MMOGuildsites.com is a very easy way to build a website for your guild. You could compare it to Guildportal.com in theory except that the former is taking a fresh, Web 2.0 approach to the idea, while the latter is still stuck in the 90’s. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Guildportal; I think they’ve helped tens of thousands of people make a home for their guild on the web but to be honest their technology is limited and their style is dated. You want to attract guild members right?! At their cores, both services share the same vision — Easy guild management and communication — except MMOGuildsites does it with style.

Features

I’ll highlight some key features of MMOGuildsites in this review but you can view the entire list here.

  • Admin Panel (You get to sit in the big chair) – A very intuitive, simple, Ajax-enabled admin panel gives you full control of your guild’s website. You can create and assign ranks (linked to permission if you desire), modify your site’s layout (2-column, 3-column, fixed or liquid, etc.) with drag-and-drop functionality, maintain your billing options, and much more.
  • Theming (Pick up that paint brush and create… or trace) – So, you’ve got a great vision for how you want your site to look but you don’t know how to code HTML or CSS. No problem! They’ve built a fantastic visual themeing tool that makes customizing the look and feel of your site a breeze. Think: “paint by numbers.” You can save themes privately or publicly. To view a list of community-submitted themes, click here. Here’s one I created by using Wikipedia.com as an inspiration: Guild Wiki. If you just can’t find inspiration from within, you can actually take one of the public themes and modify it to suit your needs (kind of like tracing)!
  • Components (drag ’em and drop ’em) – Here’s a quick list of just SOME of the components you can drop into your guild’s website through the admin panel: Shout Box (real-time chat between all logged-in members), Forums (customize your own subforums for guild discussion), Guild Applications (potentials can apply for membership directly from your guild page — great for recruiting purposes), Events Calendar (plan raids, guild meetings, or simply let people know about upcoming birthdays), Image Galleries (guild members can upload images into their own personal gallery), and a DKP System (custom-made DKP system for raiding guilds – links with Allakhazam‘s item database).

Payment Options

MMOGuildsites has 4 subscriptions:

  1. FREE 7-day trial (a great way to “try before you buy”)
  2. $8.99/month (gallery upload of 100MB/month)
  3. $12.99/month (gallery upload of 200MB/month)
  4. $16.99/month (gallery upload of 500MB/month)

Aside from the upload limits, all plans are able to use the same set of components and features and when you actually think about it, the rates are pretty reasonable. Hosting a personal site with a commercial web host/server will cost you around $10.00/month alone and you’ll still need to do all the coding and database administration. Also, MMOGuildsites uses PayPal as their payment method. What’s stopping you from having each member of your guild deposit $1.00/month by PayPal to help offset the cost of site maintenance? Additionally, you could rotate who pays for the site on a monthly basis to keep things “fair.”

Conclusion

MMOGuildsites is a tool that will help you manage your guild and enhance communication between members. While the service is extremely new (launched in early December) there are already a number of guilds using it (Enmity, Avalorien, and Mayhem just to name a few). The service is targeted at guilds from any MMORPG (Everquest, World of Warcraft, Dark Age of Camelot, Guild Wars, etc.) and new features are being added all the time to compliment individual games. It puts web design into the hands of the non-programmers — though programmers will enjoy having powerful tools at their fingertips without actually having to lift a finger to “code” them.

But hey, don’t take my word for it; create a free trial and experience it for yourself.

Naked orcs unite!

Digg!

December 19, 2006

Parked Domains – me hates ’em!

Filed under: business, life, personal, social networking, web — brainclutter @ 10:09 am

Argh, nothing is more frustrating for a legitimate web developer than searching for domains to register and finding that every single one of your “totally unique and awesome brand ideas” is taken… by a domain parker! I realize people want to make a quick buck by doing absolutely nothing – it’s the western dream – but it’s just so lame for anyone who actually has a good idea based around a particular domain name. I actually spend a good chunk of time on GoDaddy.com checking to see if my ideas are already taken, which of course they usually are.

This has lead to much domain diversity and creativity – I’ll admit – but it’s just weird to see names like del.icio.us, bebo, and orkut. These domains have absolutely nothing to do with the content on their site, and while they are very trendy and “web 2.0,” I don’t really think they’re intuitive for the user.  I guess this is the Ikea strategy of giving your products/services catchy but random and nonsensical names. There’s even a rumour floating around that Nintendo bought Wii.com from some random parker for between $200,000.00 to $600,000.00?

Maybe I’m wrong in thinking a domain/brand name is actually that important.  You can’t argue with the success of the above-metioned companies and it would appear their brand isn’t having a negative impact on their success. Maybe I should take a page from their book and come up with a catchy name for myself…

Hmmm… a social recipe site named ButterClutter… a dating service called JaneOnTheBrainFuzzopi, the coolest new travel planning site.

Feel free to steal any of those and don’t forget to park ’em!

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