Website Ideas

Internet Panhandling

Well, I missed posting in October. Too busy reigniting a passion for my real estate property website idea that apparently has yet to make it to the pages of this blog. Soon I say, soon.

Remember when internet panhandling was all the rage back in the early 2000’s? It was the SaveKaryn website that seemed to start it all. As soon as the media picked up on her site/story and wrote about it, there were copycats galore popping up everywhere. I visited a handful of them back then, but can’t remember any of the others now. I doubt they still exist anyway.

I remember being in disbelief that someone would have the gall to publicly beg for money for being financially irresponsible. Just as some people like to attach themselves to tragedy, others do the same for popularity, so people gave and gave and bailed Karyn out of her financial mess. Good for her for hitting on something that hadn’t yet been exploited yet. Still shady though.

I never wanted to be in the virtual begging realm, but I do remember thinking there’s better things to donate to, such as real hardships and not some careless spendthrift. I remember being inspired by this idea and thought it would be fun to have a gift giving website or amateur TV show where people could nominate others, tell their story and why they deserved a helping hand, and each week one person or family would be selected and surprised with a chunk of change (financed by sponsors of course).

Of course, this whole internet begging thing has evolved into two species like future humans in H.G Wells novella The Time Machine. It’s now called fundraising or crowdfunding, but the action is the same. You set up a page asking for donations for something or someone you deem needy, and the two species of neediness are defined by what each potential contributor considers worthy.

For me personally, the opportunistic ones that appear selfish in nature or resultant from poor life decisions are no better than internet begging. No thanks. But the ones I’d consider are unforeseen tragedies, paying for medical treatments, or doing nice in some way for a true giver. Everyone’s different, so your mileage may vary. That’s by no means an exhaustive list of what I’d give to, but rather a short list of the kinds of requests I find worthy of kindness.

Not that all personal donation requests are bad, but I’d be a lot more stringent in my decision making process to figure out if I thought the person really deserved a little extra coin for their endeavor. The good thing about GoFundMe and similar sites is that to some degree they legitimized asking for money in a non-sleazy way.

While Karyn may have benefited from something new, I don’t think her story would have resonated much sympathy from the masses today the way it did more than a decade ago. If her story ended up on GoFundMe in 2015, I suspect all it would generate is attention on the most ridiculous GoFundMe requests lists.

So, how could we take this idea and turn it into something? For some reason it seems disingenuous to talk about making money while saying you’re trying to help people. I really don’t know how you could do it better than GoFundMe, but maybe this idea should be something you start with your heart and nothing more.

How about this. Buy a domain, throw up a quick WordPress site, then give yourself a moniker about being an anonymous benefactor. Then pick a deserving campaign and donate. You can stay anonymous and still plug your website in the comment field.

If you notice you’re getting some website traffic/attention from your giving, give people the option to contribute anonymously through your site. Perhaps for every dollar the individual donates gives them one vote towards the pre-selected group of campaigns that are chosen for that week or month. This might be really fun.


Now, if any affluent individuals with a penchant for philanthropy would like to support a struggling blogger and wannabe entrepreneur in need of psychological treatments to help him focus on one (or a few) select ideas, please donate to my GoFundMe page.

All Menus in One Place

About ten years ago I had the idea to create a massive menu site. I wanted to include everything from fine dining restaurants to ordinary sub and pizza joints. Users could upload menus and owners could claim their business/page to somewhat control it. I felt this would replace all those paper take out menus you keep in your kitchen drawer.

A decade ago a lot of these smaller Mom and Pop type shops weren’t online yet, so I thought that menu centralization would be great. This has changed quite a bit and you can now find almost every restaurant represented online to some degree. That doesn’t mean the menus are always accurate and up to date though.

The inspiration behind this idea came from my childhood. I was remembering the summer that my aunt drove my cousin and I around so we could collect as many different match books from restaurants, hotels, and anywhere else that had their own. Back then it seems like everyplace had their own match books. Not so much anymore since smokers are oft considered pariah these days.

As I was recalling that summer, I remember us running into each place to ask for matchbooks, and I also recall them always being near the menus. That’s what got the idea rolling.

I don’t think this would be worth it as a stand alone idea in the present, but if you combined it with another idea, it would be fantastic. My first thought was to couple it with a review site, so I just did a search and realized I’m writing this post three years too late. I guess Yelp already has a menu field/section.

Well, this just went from a novel idea to competing with a well established review behemoth. Just remember that things can always be done better, even if it’s competing with a giant.

Yelp seems to have quite the stranglehold on restaurant reviews these days. I do like reading reviews on Yelp, but I hate using it for writing them. I stopped contributing because they were rewarding reviews with visibility to those users who reviewed the most (at least, that’s what they said), and that drove me nuts.

I write a review for a place and because I don’t come back for a month, my review becomes hidden? What the hell is that all about? Not only is that unfair, but that kind of policy is a breeding ground for suspicion when you’re talking about reputation. Is is really based on participation, or can companies get things removed?

This is why I’d always prefer to own the machine instead of being a cog in it. Do I want to manage a profile on Facebook, or run my own social network? My own please! Do you want to write reviews and post menus on Yelp, or make the rules on your own site? It’s always the latter for me! I’d rather launch and fail at building something of my own than dedicate my spare time to building something someone else owns. I already have a job that makes someone else rich. I don’t want to do that with my spare time too.

Among the many other reasons why I lose interest in an idea, the main culprit for this one was the name. I love spending time searching for domains and coming up with one I’m happy with, but it never happened for this one. I really felt like I settled.

I chose the name I guess I liked it for a fleeting moment enough to buy it, but I think I let it go within a year or two. I could never imagine building a brand out of that name. MenuViews. The more I say it, the more bland it sounds.

Whenever I write up these posts about ideas I’ve had in which I’ve let the domain go, I ALWAYS go check it out to see if anyone has made anything out of it. is currently for sale as a premium domain for $2195. That is hilarious.

The bulk of my domain purchases I keep. I almost never let domains go to expiration, but this one was just too weak and uninteresting of a name, so it didn’t make the cut. It wasn’t worth $10 to me, but clearly someone else think it’s worth thousands.

I doubt this one will ever sell for that, but I wish the current owner best of luck trying.

Questions for Celebrities

I find it hilarious that my last blog post from almost three weeks ago is about blogging consistency. It’s very typical of me to go Gung ho on an idea for a couple weeks and then move on to the next one. I did a good five or six weeks on this one before getting distracted.

My distraction was the idea I mentioned in my previous post. A lot of my spare time (if there is such a thing) has been focused on, but now that it’s been a good three weeks I’m starting to slow down on that one. I also purchased two new domain names in the month of August too, so I’m already feeling the itch.

One of the reasons this idea struck me as interesting was because people love celebrities and it was a site you could contribute to (anonymously if you prefer) in a matter of seconds. I think the stickiness aspect might take some time though. The more questions posted for your celebrity faves, the more likely people might stick around to read and link jump to other celebrities.

Without an existing community, I always struggle coming up with ideas for attracting visitors without feeling spammy. I thought of using social media for this one, specifically Twitter, since it’s a good place to find a bunch of a celebrities fans in one place.

I’ve heard many people state that free is not a business model, so with that being said, many of my ideas suffer from a lack of a business model. On the flip side is that there are a lot of free websites out there that have become wildy popular for one reason or another, and that traffic pays the owner a very healthy salary every month through advertising.

I love reading stories where people hit gold like that. Take Markus Frind, the guy who built Plenty of Fish to learn ASP.Net programming, and ended up with a dating site that was profitable from the get go. He once claimed he was working an hour a day and earning 10 million a year. He just sold his company for 575 million.

Then there’s the guy (whoever he is) running a site geared towards developers that is raking in 40k per month that ShoeMoney talks about in his post about buying and selling websites. There’s people out there that do it. Why not us, right?

I’ll tell you the biggest difference from people like this and myself. They stick with their ideas. I chase butterflies. I’m willing to bet that any single idea you find on this site could turn into something great with the right person behind it.

I’ve still got some playing around to do on If I Met, but don’t be surprised if I write about this one being for sale at some point down the road. In the meantime, please go look for your favorite celebrities and post what you would ask if you ever met him or her.

Sell Your Girlfriends Clothing Online

Have you ever noticed that despite having a closet full of clothes, you still seem to cycle through many of the same articles each week? You find your favorites and wear them out the fastest while the other stuff takes time to work its way into the rotation.

I do it all the time. I’m just a collar shirt at work and t-shirt at home kind of guy, but I still have my favorites that I repeat more often than the others. This is fine when you can see everything you own in your closet because you always know what your options are, even if you choose the same old comfy clothes again and again.

You know when this kind of situation doesn’t work? When you have more clothes than you can fit in a bureau and a closet (or three), so you never see all of your options. When you don’t see everything, stuff isn’t added into the rotation, so some pieces stay new forever.

This is what happens at my house. My girlfriends solution when we start getting boxed in by clothes is to start throwing her stuff in trash bags and donate it all. Her heart is certainly in the right place, but I also cringe when I see how much money she is stuffing into those trash bags. There has to be a better way.

Enter idea guy. I told her I would take her clothes and at least get her something for them. I purchased the domain MyGirlShops 1 and a day or two later I had a website up with a few articles of clothing for sale. I would sell a few pieces on eBay to use as a lead generator by mentioning the website in my About Me page as well as including the url on the invoice I shipped with the product.

My girlfriend was fine with the idea. She got to wash her hands of it all. She also didn’t mind me asking constant questions about each article of clothing so I could write descriptions. What’s this? A scarf or a belt? I thought Empire Waist was where the Millenium Falcon was hiding. Why is it called a Pea Coat if it’s white?

The good news is after only a couple months I was seeing traffic surge in the logs, so it looked like it was working. Unfortunately nobody was buying directly from the website. I kept adding more items thinking it was a problem with the lack of selection. It was a lot of work, especially when you’re women’s fashion illiterate like I am.

Eventually I grew weary of this despite the fact that its daily page views was consistently increasing. I just don’t care about women’s fashion. I also couldn’t believe how many questions people ask about articles of clothing, but I guess I can understand since you can’t exactly try stuff on first if you’re buying online.

It’s too bad my girlfriend wasn’t into running this herself because she would probably love to talk clothes all day long. She thinks in clothes. If we are talking about an event that happened 10 years ago, she remembers it by what she (or someone else) was wearing. You know how people always say I remember where I was when Kennedy was shot, or when the Twin Towers were hit? She remembers what she was wearing.

I guess the lesson here is you really need to make sure you enjoy what you do because if your heart is not into it, there’s going to be trouble ahead. Not even the incentive of a growing visitor base could keep me from becoming bored with this one.

I bet someone out there could take this idea and build it into something great. This could start out as an online brand, then move into a chain of brick and mortar MyGirlShops consignment stores. Just make sure to get permission from your girl first before dropping her stuff off to be consigned. You’ve heard of revenge porn, right? Well, revenge consignment is even worse to some girls. You’ve been warned.

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Change the eBay Feedback Fiasco

I’m neither a huge buyer nor a frequent seller on eBay, but when I do visit to buy, one of my guilty pleasures is reading negative feedback from sellers. You don’t learn much from the positives. You learn it from the negatives. A seller could have a quadrillion positive feedbacks, but if he’s an asshole in his replies to his 10 negatives, that’s a pretty significant red flag to me.

eBay gives you such a ridiculously small area to leave feedback which favors positive remarks. You can leave short exclamations when things are good, but try explaining a nightmare of a problem with a bad seller in 80 characters or less. You can’t.

My idea was to put up a site where users could continue the feedback conversation. It’s hard to determine fault when you can’t say everything you want. Imagine if you had to defend yourself in court, but could only use 80 characters. Pretty tough, huh?

I purchased a domain inspired by the eBay name called FeedbackHarbor. 1 Bay, Harbor, get it? Anyhoo, I think I installed Dragonfly CMS and started leaving a url linking back to FeedbackHarbor for eBay feedback in any auction in which I was involved. At the time eBay didn’t exactly say they prohibited this, but I later found in their help section where it said a user could have feedback removed that contained a url, so there was no sense in continuing that action.

I realized this idea would require a programmer to tap into the eBay API to somehow pull negative feedback so that buyers and sellers could have a dedicated thread linked to an item number. It’s not something I have the knowledge to do myself, and it wasn’t something I was ready to plunk down money on just yet.

This one needs to be done though. Someone should really take this idea because eBay has really messed up their feedback system even worse. I bought this domain almost 9 years ago and their feedback was broken back then. These days a seller can’t even leave bad feedback for a buyer. How messed up is that? Guess who’s curtailed his eBay selling even further since then? *raising hand*

I can almost see them all scrambling, knowing they’ll no longer be getting my two or three extra final value fees each and every month. Yeah, take that eBay. You can kiss that new omelette bar in the cafeteria goodbye right now. Good luck explaining this one at your next annual shareholder meeting. Pssss, burn.

OK, so in reality eBay probably doesn’t give a shit if sporadic sellers boycott, as long as buyers keep on buying. The one sided feedback has been this way for a few years now, so they have no interest in changing things to be fair again. Someone should capitalize on this severely lacking cork-brained feedback platform.

A site like this could help level the playing field again. If users had another place to air their troubles with certain people, the rest of us could be better informed about who to trust or who to avoid. It wouldn’t be ideal to have to go off the eBay site to investigate, but that’s eBay’s problem. They should have fixed their feedback system a long time ago, and they haven’t, so c’est la vie.

I understand the feedback system has never been perfect, but I came up with a better idea than eBay’s extremely flawed and one sided feedback solution. Allow feedback to be left by users for 30 days. No character limit. During this 30 day time period, the feedback is private. On day 31, it’s automatically posted. No revenge feedback. It’s still flawed, but better than what they have now.

The better idea is FeedbackHarbor. If someone implemented this as a free service, I would sign up for it in a heart beat. I’m just not sure where the money would be, but that’s your first assignment. Think about all that time you skim negative feedback. You know you do. Those eyeballs could all be on your site. We’re all suckers for a little drama, otherwise reality TV wouldn’t be so popular.

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