Posts Tagged ‘review’

Power of Quora: Pick Your Own Crowd

Monday, January 17th, 2011

In my initial review of, I wondered how it was going to cope with the masses. The current value of quora is largely in the crowd that is on there. There are top-level founders, CTO’s, etc giving valuable insight into their way of doing business and the current use of technology. So what will happen to that when the masses come? On most forums, the experts leave or quality topics get buried by loads of trivial ones.

However, I now believe I figured out the power of quora: you can pick your own crowd.  By following the right people, you automatically select the quality and topics that you are interested in.   In time, generic topics like ‘webdevelopment’ will probably be swamped (at least, without heavy moderation), but brilliant people, will stay brilliant and will keep giving high quality answers: you just need to find them.


Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Last week I was introduced to . It’s a smart Q&A on almost everything. The crowd is currently very tech oriented, thus so are the questions.  The most notable difference to existing forums and Q&A sites is the way you select the content you are interested in.   You can follow  people, topics (tags)  or specific questions.  All together building a feed of questions and updates tailored to your interest.

I see some relation to asking a question on Twitter, however with Quora your other followers can actually see the responses. Currently, the quality of answers is one of the big selling points. The people answering are CTO’s, founders, etc. making it a great place to read up on new trends.

Although it took a while for me to figure out the search box,  it works very very well and incredibly fast. It can find people, topics and specific questions as you type.

As with every new service,  there are still a few things in there that are not as smooth as desirable. First of all, it is hard to see what has been read. This has been a standard functionality in almost every forum out there, not without reason. Furthermore, the homepage feed is structured a bit weird. For example to me it would make more sense to group   the ‘new question added’  and ‘answer added’ on the same question  together, instead of having them at multiple points in the time-line. Especially annoying is the fact that new items are added to the homepage at the top, while you are reading, moving you away from what you were reading. Finally, on the homepage it some times it shows topic suggestions on the right, but not always. If it’s not showing there, I find it hard to figure out where I can get those.

There are some other things I wish there were in there:  for example a way to ‘archive’ certain questions, so they don’t appear anymore, even though they are on a topic I’m following. I would also very much like to see a global feed with all questions, that does not look like a diff screen.

In general it feels very promising, however the big question is: how will it cope with the masses? As soon as this goes beyond the early adopters, will I still be able to cope with the large amount of questions on the topics I’m interested in?  Or will I have to wade through batches of unanswered and uninteresting topics?

SEOmoz Pro Account Review

Sunday, July 26th, 2009

SEOmoz seemed to have some nice tools,  so  we decided to give it’s PRO account a try.     And indeed the tools are quite nice.   I especially like the idea of Linkscape and  Ranktracker.    Linkscape shows you exactly what pages are linking to your site.  And better: you can easily filter them to see which do not come from your own website, which ones have  nofollow on them, etc.     Ranktracker does what you expect from the name:   track  search engine positions for different keywords over time.    There is a bunch of other tools as well, but those are not really impressive and maybe even a bit outdated.

However,  the site and tools are SLOW,   a significant portion of my requests  fails or take ages.     I’ve tested it during multiple days, so it’s not a one-time thing.    In my opinion  as a programmer I’m better of reproducing the tools with some small scripts,  because unresponsive sites really annoy me, especially if I pay $79 a month for them.     I do not think  I lost that first payment though, because there is also some great paid content over there.  But that’s not nearly enough to justify paying  $79 every month.

An Idea I do like it that I can take a questionnaire after I cancel  and get another week for free.   Because on our sites people usually don’t want to take the effort to tell us why they cancel.

Evaluating Basecamp

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

At MovingLabs we really believe in creating all our tools, but as we need many, most are not really finished. Fine for us, but not so much if we need to collaborate with others.  We do have our own project tools like  TeamSpinner and FlexLists, but not everyone likes them in their current state.    Therefore we decided to sign up for the 30 day evaluation of Basecamp. Something that receives so much positive attention must be spectacular , right?

What I expected,  from what I’ve read and heard, was a clean and simple interface where those parts that are there are quick, effective and perfect.    The clean and simple part is definitely true,  there is no visual waste and I can quicly find stuff.  However speed, effectiveness and perfection are the things that I can’t find.

The first thing I noticed is that it’s actually quite slow,  maybe because it’s servers are in the US, but in terms of speed it feels like the  Java Enterprise intranet application that I worked on years ago.

Second thing is that it still has many rough edges that I would have expected to be fixed by now:

  • No error or resubmit, just forever ‘busy’  when the connection drops while doing an ajax submit ( Gmail set the standards high on this stuff)
  • The main page title is not clickable
  • On the message entry form there is not a hint that I can actually use the wiki like syntax
  • I can’t click on users anywhere to get some details about them, like which projects I share, what their e-mail is,  etc.

Finally I just miss a very important thing:  I want to set my todo’s  to  ‘busy’ .   I’m just way too used to doing that.

Besides these points it does work fairly well, I do like the way it takes into account that you want to collaborate with multiple parties.  However,  it’s not nearly good enough to cure the  ‘not invented here’ feeling.  Luckily the party we tried to collaborate with agrees with us, so seems like we need to fix TeamSpinner after all…