Anonymous Emailing

July 2, 2008

We are fans of craigslist, and one of the most useful features on it is the anonymous email that ad posters use to replace their real email. That way, if you are using a company email address, or writing a personal that you don’t want others to know about, nobody knows your real email address.

Wikimetro now has added that feature. Originally we used the email “box” like the one kijiji uses, but we quickly discovered that users prefer to reply using their own email account, rather than squeezing their reply in a website generated box.

Recreating Mediawiki

April 29, 2008

The first adopters for Wikimetro are the people who edit and enter information using mediawiki, the software that powers wikipedia. However, from the beginning wikimetro used an asp.net platform to create the site, including classifieds and tickets, and that means that we have spent nearly 6 months recreating the core functions that make wikipedia useful. That process is almost complete, and just in time since we now have many newspapers that are signing up with us, and we will be launching soon with our newspaper partners in various cities across the USA.

We are digging through programming errors one at a time. Wikimetro is getting traffic already, so for those of you out there who have wandered onto our domain, we want you to know that we are working as fast as we can to get this site up and running. If you want to track our work day to day, we have added a link on the wiki to a table with our list of errors and current work status in resolve them.

We know that there are many complaints about spam postings on Craigslist, since most postings are free. To date, the alternative to that has been to charge for listings from the time a site goes live, but that doesn’t work since it takes listings for a site to be popular, and nobody will pay at the beginning for such listings when the site is almost empty. Craigslist resolves this by activating listings for a city for many years, then begin charging when there are enough ads.  We think there is a different method that is more effective and efficient, and surprisingly easy: we offer ads for free, or for a price, depending on what the ad poster chooses, but then give the view the option of quickly removing from view all free ads, or ads below a certain price.

In other words, if a new city gets 100 ad postings every day, and 95 of those are free ads including many spam ads, and five ads are paid for ads, Wikimetro is set up to let a user quickly switch from viewing all ads, including free ads, to the five paid ads, so it isn’t necessary to scroll through the spam ads to find the good ones. And, it encourages ad posters to pay a fee, even a small fee, in whatever amount they choose as a way of verifying that their ad is legit.

We’ve finally figured out a method for paying bloggers whose feeds we use. We have linked our paid classifieds with RSS feeds that arrive from blogs, and we pay per click. That’s it. The reason we can do this is because classifieds are placed on our site, and because bloggers register with us. We believe this is a new way to generate traffic and an effective way to distribute money. We will later need to figure out the correct percentages, but the core business process seems to make sense to us, .

We are now advertising and testing programmers with PHP skills– something not easy anywhere, and even more difficult here in China. The reason we need to do this in China is because there are more people and labor costs are a lot lower. It would be suicide to create this website paying western wages out of pocket with the hope that someone will one day fund it.

Adding Payment Systems

August 16, 2007

We’ve spent part of this week trying to figure out, after months thinking about this, if sales and customer service for tickets to local performances falls into the model of an ebay type sale, where all invoicing and customer service is done by the seller, or into the stubhub model, where the website company does this. We seem to fall somewhere in between. To set up customer service like stubhub would be a huge task, and for sales of tickets to low volume oulets, like school plays, there’s no way for us to offer customer service.