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Monthly Archives: March 2008

Today marks the one-month mark, since beta 2 launched, and what nicer way to celebrate it than to reveal a big nasty bug. If you visited the site today, you may have noticed that the order of the thots on the main list was a little strange. Things had largely revered to the way they were a month ago. Without going into detail, the month rollover caused a problem with the time element of the ranking algorithm. I’ve corrected it, but there are other bugs lurking about as some of you have reported. Thank you. This is the main purpose of the beta period, to shake out issues like this before we go big time.  

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So, I haven’t been very active with thotmarket this last week, because of demands form my day job (as if you care), but lookie what happened while I was out. There was a nice feature on MoBuzz TV, and it has resulted in a very nice bump in traffic to the site. In case you don’t know, MoBuzz is a great tech industry news Video Podcast. You should be checking it out daily. Here is the feature on thatmarket from a couple of days ago. Man, I can’t believe this happened on Tuesday and I didn’t find out about it until today. I’m normally totally plugged in, for better and worse, but this week just was a crazy one. In any case, I’ll take it.    In other news, I’m still working on the forum. It should have been up a week ago, but the aforementioned day job took care of that. Hopefully it will be only a few days longer before it goes up. 

As has been discussed in the comments section of several recent blog posts, I’ve added a new number that can be used to value and compare thots by. This is called ‘book value’ which can be found on the thot detail page just under Market Capitalization. This number represents the amount of money that a thot has saved up for long-term use. It is initially set at IPO by the first controlling user as the ‘initial investment’. Thots will dip into this fund if trading has dried up, to prop up their revenue and subsequently buy back their own shares. The book value can increase if any dividends are issued on shares that the thot itself owns. I need to beef up documentation on the site about this element, but in the mean time, I’ve added a list that orders thots by book value.

I am working on the discussion forum. It will be posted within the next couple of days. I could have gotten one up sooner if I just used something like phpbb, but I want an application that will integrate more seamlessly with the overall app. For example, I don’t want to require a separate log-in for the forum. Thanks for all the feedback!

You can now display an avatar with some of your content on ThotMarket. At the moment an avatar is displayed with your comments, and your user profile page, but there will be more use of it at a later date. I have yet to update the documentation on the site with instructions for creating one, but if you;d like to get a head start, you’ll need to head over to Gravatars and upload your mug there. As long as the email address that you provide gravatars is the same as the one you have entered into your ThotMarket account, your avatar will show up on the site. You can edit your email address from the link on your ThotMarket account summary page. Just a reminder, providing your email address to ThotMarket is not, by itself, permission for ThotMarket to start spamming you with emails. Only people who opt-in to receiving solicitations will get them. Also, ThotMarket wont sell your email (or give them away either) to anyone else so they can do it. Aside from avatars, the email only serves the purpose of allowing you to recover your account information if you forget your password or something. 

I’ve made a slight change to the thot buyback function. Previously a thot would start attempting to buy back some of its shares (using revenue) only if the market cap was below $500. It would also spend all of whatever revenue it had on hand to do the buybacks. This has changed. All thots that have any revenue will attempt to buy back shares now, but they will only spend a fraction of the revenue they have on hand. There is a sliding scale to determine the amount of revenue that will be spent on buybacks (the rate decreases as revenue increases). This accomplishes two things: First, it eliminates a weakness in the previous system that might have left some thots stranded on the market indefinitely. These were thots with a high market cap and little trading. Now such thots will start to convert revenue into holdings eventually. If those holdings don’t sell, the thot will start forcing the trading price down to entice investors, or lead to de-listing (eventually). Second, it prevents thots from blowing all of whatever revenue they have on trading. Reserving some revenue for dividends. There were numerous situations when thots with modest pending dividends essentially canceled the entire dividend in favor of buying back shares. I’ve seen that there is some confusion about all this, as some thot controllers wonder why the dividend they created (by posting comments) went away (or got smaller). The reason is, that the thot is using some of that money to buy back shares rather than issue a dividend. That is why it says ‘tentative’ dividend pending. 

So, I’ve changed the portable tickers again. Now, the html for the link and the image don’t include any variables, no ‘id=’ or anything like that. It seems that the old version, even the new (old) one wasn’t showing up on many sites (like forms) because they automatically block urls with that sort of code (for being spam or something). Hopefully, hopefully, this will finally take care of it. Please try to embed a ticker into your site or forum post and let m e know if they now work as they should. In case you didn’t know, the embed code is available on the thot detail page for each thot. Thanks. 

I’ve posted significant changes to the market mechanism tonight. In general the changes are designed to deal with the mounting complaints about the inability to unload shares due to a lack of liquidity in the market. I don’t kno if these msteps will rectify the matter, but I sure how so. Please let me know what you find.

 

Thot Buy-backs

In certain circumstances, thots themselves will buy back their own shares using money they have earned as revenue. This action will happen only for thots below a certain market cap. The reclaimed shares are still available on the market, as the thot will set its selling price to the default increase (usually 2% over buying). However, thots will start to decrease the selling price of the shares they own themselves, if there have been no trades on that thot for 24 hours.

 

Thot Revenue

Thots will pay for this investing with the money they earn as revenue. This will effect dividend payouts for some thots. You already know that thots earn revenue from comments that are posted, well they now also earn it from click-throughs. That is to say, you will be charged each time you click through to a thot. The price is currently $0.25 for each pageview of the thot detail page and $0.50 if you follow the link offsite. You will not be charged for each of the actions more than once for a one hour period (that is, you can view the thot page as many time as you want in a the space of an hour and only be charged once). These charges are billed to your bank account in one-hour clumps and will show up as ‘Hourly Activity Bill’ in your statement. What about the activity of un logged visitors? Well, their activity also counts toward revenue for thots, asn is funded by the ThotMarket Reserve as long as the reserve has enough money to cover the expenses. This reserve is in turn funded by the proceeds of the Ad auction.

 

Thot Loans

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Thots that are truly struggling, that is to say those that have a dwindling market cap, and have received no trades for over a day, have one last countermeasure. These thots will start to borrow from their own initial investment to prop up their own revenue. Each day that they remain on the market and are still struggling, they will transfer half of the wealth stored in their initial investment into revenue. This revenue will be used for dividends or share buy-backs just like any other thot. Of course if that still doesn’t entice investors, and no one bites for four days, the thot will be de-listed as the junk it so rightfully is.

 

Stimulus Package

To help jump start this new stage in Beta 2, I’ve released another stimulus package. This time, anyone with a bank balance less than $1000, has receive an additional $1000 to try everything out.

 I’m sure I’m forgetting something here. Whatever, let me know if the changes improve your trading experience, or not.

 

I’ve added a new thot type for RSS feeds. This allow you to post thots that display the contents of rss feeds. The feeds, as all good feeds should, will update automatically as items are added to them. These are good for news headlines and blog postings, as well as microblogging and many other things. For example, here’s what a Flickr Photostream looks like on ThotMarket. I think there’s a lot of potential with feeds. In fact, the whole thing has got me thinking about redesigning the thot details page to better frame the content of these new thot types. The YouTube videos could be bigger and the feeds could have more room to spread out if we moved the trading interface to the right-hand margin (or something like that). In any case check it out.

Well, the second beta has been up for a couple of weeks, long enough to begin to draw some conclusions about what is working and what isn’t. The most positive thing is that the new system does in fact prevent the rampant inflation that so plagued the first beta. The biggest problem, however, may be a direct result of that new system. There seems to be less interest in the trading experience this time around, and I think that it is a result of the the fact that the game aspect of the site is harder than it was before. In general, it’s hard to make money, and not terribly difficult to blow all of your thollars in one high spirited user session. I have numerous email from people complaining that they have money wrapped up in thots that are not selling, and are therefore stuck. My default response, is that people need to be careful about where they put their money, and they need to market their thots both on the site and off using the comments, ad auction, and embeddable stock tickers that are available for every thot. Of course, I recognize that the system and it currently stands is heavily dependant on a critical mass of trading occurring each day, in order to ensure a good experience for the largest percentage of users as possible. If there aren’t enough people buying, then there isn’t enough money being acquired allowing reinvestment. It a vicious cycle that turns frustrated users away from the site worsening the situation. My main strategy to deal with this, so far, is to drive as many people to the site as possible, hoping to cross that threshold, achieve whatever that critical mass of users is to get this economy pumping. As it stands two weeks in, that strategy is failing. The engine is still turning over, and has not started yet.

 

Another tactic that I’ve taken is to try to make the content on the site more compelling. That is why I am introducing new thot types. This started this week with the introduction of YouTube videos, but will continue as we introduce two new types this weekend: RSS newsfeed thots and Twitter Thots. Hopefully this will spur traffic as well.

 

As I look at the numbers however, I concerned that more drastic changes might be needed, changes that involve tinkering with the market mechanism again. I believe that one of the biggest frustrations for user sis the lack of instantaneous gratification that users received when they could just hit the ‘sell’ button in beta 1. The reason that there is no sell button in beta 2 is that sellers need to match up with a buyer, before they can make a sale. I’m not going to get into detail in this post, about why this posed a problem in beta 1, but it pretty clear that many users are frustrated that they can’t just hit sell anymore. I’m working on a compromise that might satisfy both needs. That is, everything remains as it is now, but you have the ability to place a sell ‘order’ on any of your shares and sell them back to the thot (rather than another trader). In order for this to work, the thots would have to pay for them somehow.  This money could come out of the thot’s income, which could of course have an impact on any pending dividends. This is not  a perfect solution since only some thots have enough income to buy back shares (and many do not). I’m also looking into alternative revenue sources for thots, such as changing (something small) to each user you click through a thot. This would be analogous to customers buying a product from a company.