Thursday, January 31, 2008

mediocre marketing: how not to cold email someone

A friend of mine from Boston, Dharmesh, recently wrote on how not to describe your startup. He runs a popular website called OnStartups; I won't give you any hints as to what it's about, but it remains one of my favorite examples of how a site like reddit provides a global stage for good content to be discovered. I still remember when his entries first started appearing on reddit, then they became a regular occurrence (not unlike our pals at XKCD). I love knowing that reddit had even a small part in their success.

But back to the matter at hand, bad "cold emailing" (the cold call 2.0?).

Granted, this startup was automatically at a disadvantage by being yet another social networking site, but this mass email didn't help their cause (formatting preserved for authenticity, names and URLs replaced out of compassion):


An amazing new Social Network is coming..... But this one has a BIG difference. It's going to PAY YOU to play Games Online... (fun skill games..not gambling games!) PAY YOU to introduce others via MLM and PAY YOU passively when a game is played by anybody in your downline...even whilst you sleep! Payment will also be INSTANT!!! weSpam is coming in January 2008.

You can pre-register for FREE TODAY before it actually launches, securing your place before the expected hundreds of thousands of people join. See my site at

The brand weSpam is predicted to be as big as Facebook and Myspace

If YOU register for FREE via this email, I'll try my VERY best to let you participate in the advance beta testing of the games, see for yourself whats taking the world by storm.You have nothing to lose and EVERYTHING to gain! This is THE road to financial freedom as weSpam features THE MOST EXCITING payplan in MLM history! You'll be amazed. It's going to be FUN, AMAZING and VERY PROFITABLE!

For your FREE promotional website and MUCH more information, simply go to Don't delay...It takes only 20 seconds!

Thanks for your time

I wish I could be as constructive as Dharmesh and suggest some improvements, but I don't know where to begin. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

living in an 8-bit world

Old school gamer feels nostalgic, catalogs some great 8-bit images from across the Web. Geeks rejoiced.

Oh, and did I mention the 8-bit reddit shirt was featured? Sweet, we're on the Internets!

(Found on gaming.reddit)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

missed australia day, this joey will make up for it

A redditor had suggest a couple weeks ago that I remember to do a logo for Australia Day. I put it in my calendar and everything. But the 26th of January came and went. No special reddit logo.

I feel bad for three reasons: the obvious one being that I'd told this redditor I'd do it; the second because I'd recently visited and wanted to doodle a brilliant homage to this magic land; and finally because it's such a wasted opportunity when a reddit logo idea so easily presents itself.

Oh well, now I'm going to have to make up for it next year with an even grander logo to "celebrate what's great about Australia and being Australian."

The last thing I want is a nation of convicts to be pissed at me ;-)

Just to smooth things over, here's an adorable joey! (found via OMG Babies!)

bobblehead on the loose

After the kidnapping of our prototype bobblehead (followed by its dramatic return) we knew we'd better start producing more of them.

An army of bobbleheads has since landed in NY and one has apparently made its way to Tamar Weinberg (schwag addict). It got the rather positive review of "super awesome." Almost as good as the last Gamespot review I read.*

(Hopefully I won't get goatse'd for ganking the img)

*Just kidding! I don't read Gamespot. Does anyone?

Monday, January 28, 2008

python valentine - a program for your day

I couldn't help but follow up with another unValentine card. The novel part about this card is that it can apply to anyone on Valentine's Day -- single, dating, married, whatever. It's written in Python, thanks to some help from Chris Slowe who made it not look like some crappy Pascal that never would have compiled.

The Python Valentine is perfect for any and all geeks in your life, except for Java programmers. Oh, and half the profits of all unHoliday Cards still go to fight pediatric cancer -- bonus feel-good feeling!

#!/usr/bin/env python

from relationships import *
from alcohol import shot, beer

def valentines_day(self):
if == 0: = False
elif self.num_prev_dates == 0: -= dinner() -= pointless_gift()
else: -= dinner()/sqrt(self.num_prev_dates)
if randInt(self.num_prev_dates): -= pointless_gift()/self.num_prev_dates
elif self.married:
if self.years_married < 5: -= dinner()/(self.years_married ** 2)
while self.blood_alcohol < .08:
self.blood_alcohol += beer()
while self.blood_alcohol < .22:
self.blood_alcohol += shot()
Paul Graham is still giving us hell for not writing it in Lisp.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

leave it to the british to properly explain the current economic situation

I can't believe this, but I've ganked this from Valleywag.

Friday, January 25, 2008

polish war-bears get memorials now?

What the hell is going on? Some dangerous reporting from the BBC has been discovered on reddit. This bear "hero" was found by Polish troops in Iran (a little lost, maybe?) and was enlisted so it could join them on their European deployment.

A campaign has been launched to build a permanent memorial to a bear which spent much of its life in Scotland - after fighting in World War II.
The bear was trained to carry mortar rounds and drink beer. All the requirements necessary to be a soldier in the Polish Army.

If only the Polish had had an army of bears in the first place, they wouldn't have had any trouble with those Germans...

what 100,000 karma will get you

OK, this entry is way overdue. Our super-est superuser, qgyh2, was the first redditor to hit 100,000 karma and he did so last week to great fanfare.

This was the least creative way I could think of honoring, qgyh2. Then a couple days ago, he messaged me to ask that I add this adorable bunny to the reddit logo.

How could I say no?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

turns out lots of people <3 gmail

Brace yourself for another Gmail lovefest.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

u.s. leads, global economy fails

Most of the folks on reddit have been pretty bummed about today's financial news. I didn't want to add to all the doom and gloom speculation about a recession, but I thought I should contribute something in the form of a reddit logo.

I remembered an old logo I'd done back in June with a very hug-able bear mascot.

But that bear's attitude didn't seem to capture the spirit of the day, so I had to make a slight change. Hopefully this change to the reddit logo won't exacerbate the recession -- the alien is a reputable bellwether.

Try to enjoy the bear market and be sure to hug your loved ones the next time you see them. Your savings may be disappearing, but they're not going anywhere.

If they are, don't fret, they didn't really love you anyway.

mlk day

Yesterday was Martin Luther King, Jr. day here in the U.S.

Until 2000, this day was also Lee-Jackson Day in the commonwealth of Virginia. It took lawmakers a little while to realize the problem.

There wasn't much compelling me to do a logo for Lee-Jackson Day, but I did one for MLK's birthday.

One redditor submitted the full version of the famous "I Have a Dream" speech. If you haven't seen/heard it in its entirety before, it's worth a look/listen.

Barack Obama used the day to deliver a pointed speech at Dr. King's church in Atlanta. Also submitted to reddit, I've got to say, this is one of the best speeches I've heard thus far in this Presidential race. He doesn't have the oratory skills of Dr. King -- few do -- but Obama delivered this one quite well.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

compete with this?

Now, I'm a big fan of Compete (especially after this), but I had to scratch my head about the top search keywords that send people to reddit.

reddit (sure, that's expected)
Someone on reddit noticed this too and submitted it earlier today. So it's technically bestiality (an astute redditor pointed this out) but it still seems like an odd search for getting to reddit.

Maybe it's not just reddit, though, perhaps our competitors suffer from a similarly bizarre search analysis. I wasn't totally shocked by the Jennifer Love Hewitt attention on digg, but what did surprise me was the overlap with the recently MSNBC-acquired startup, Newsvine. jennifer love hewitt bikini pictures, digg jennifer love hewitt fat, newsvine
Poor Jennifer. You can tell from the search queries that Newsvine-readers evidently don't mince words.

Fortunately, we don't get very much traffic from search, but I don't think we'll be using Compete's Search Analytics as "the starting point to build search marketing campaigns that drive site traffic and increase sales" on reddit. You couldn't pay me enough to design those ads.

Friday, January 18, 2008

choo-choo-choose you

Speaking of Simpsons references, I recently designed my own version of the infamous "I Choo-Choo-Choose You" card from that classic Simpsons episode.

It doesn't have any of the Simpsons-style charm, but I thought it'd be good enough to give to my friends this year. I typically hate Valentine's Day, but now that I have a card, I'm going to make an exception. Plus, if any of my 'friends' don't get the reference, I have the perfect reason to unfriend them.

Who said this holiday was just about materialism and superficial displays of affection?

Oh, and if you want some of your own, I've printed extra to save on cost; they're on sale at After all the great feedback I got from Darwin Claus, I figured it was worth doing again.

reddit still not as popular as porn

Since it got reported on TechCrunch, it must be news. Compete, the cherished alternative to the statistical joke that is Alexa, published the biggest gainers and losers of 2007.

reddit scored a coveted spot on the "positive change" list, just behind LinkedIn, with a +1033% change in monthly uniques. Granted, we got steamrolled by, but it's probably not worth trying to compete with web 2.0 porn.

I'm obviously quite pleased with the growth. According to our internal tools, we'd been seeing quite a bit of it all year long. It really took off in mid-October, though -- the drankkit effect cannot be ignored. Now that we have Compete's validation, I feel comfortable promoting this traffic boon: free beer is good. Let the web 2.0 open bar nights begin!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

don't fuck with this gate

Here's a sign that gets it all right. Both of those images convey something effectively: fuck with this gate and either your hand or entire body is gonna get crushed.It's still not quite OMFG Chuck caliber, but it's a start.

robots that not only evolve, but learn to lie

Beware the robots. It's as simple as that.

The results of a remarkable study published in Discover Magazine details the efforts by Swiss robot breeders to create our new overlords.

Robots can evolve to communicate with each other, to help, and even to deceive each other, according to Dario Floreano of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems
Dario Floreano, the Swiss version of Miles Dyson.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

start a company from your home and make millions -- trust this fox!

I can't help but associate the saying "Crazy like a fox" with Homer Simpson. This doesn't instill me with much confidence. Then again, Homer did start and run a successful Internet company until Bill Gates "bought him out."

Maybe I should visit this cunning fox's website...

Monday, January 14, 2008

breadpig dugg?

Adam pointed me to this link with 103 diggs -- it goes to

I'm not sure who submitted it, but one thing is certain: the breadpig movement is gaining momentum.

World, I hope you're ready.

people apparently still do link exchanges

A typical link exchange request showed up in my inbox a little while back.

On Dec 24, 2007, at 6:23 AM, Dev [redacted] wrote:


We visited your site and are interested to swap links with your site.

We would add your link at the home page of / PR3 which will actually help to increase the search engine rank of your site and give you some targeted traffic too.

We'd appreciate a link back from the home/internal page of your site for the mutual benefit.

If you are interested please reply to this email with your link details.

We look forward for your positive response.

Best regards,
Dev [redacted]
Not one to pass up on a great deal, I naturally responded:
That's be great, Dev! I've been a longtime fan of

Please notify me when you've got a URL to listed on your site.

Dev was pleased and was looking for me to do my end of the business deal.
On Dec 28, 2007 11:25 AM, Dev [redacted] wrote:
Thanks for the information. We have added your link at .
Please add our link at your home page, after completing please inform us about the current status of our link.

Here is our link info:


Title- Affiliate Programs

Description1- is going to release a top notch software called Affiliate elite. The software will be released limited in number and first come first served method will be employed. So don't miss the opportunity.

Dev [redacted]
I've got to say, I didn't think he'd taken me seriously, so I was surprised to see him email me again a couple days later.
On Dec 31, 2007, at 2:26 AM, Dev [redacted] wrote:

Thanks for the information. We have added your link at veiw it.
Please add our link at your home page.

Here is our link info:


Title- Affiliate Programs

Description1- is going to release a top notch software called Affiliate elite. The software will be released limited in number and first come first served method will be employed. So don't miss the opportunity.

After completing please inform us about the current status of our link, reply soon

Dev [redacted]
I could sense some anxiety in his email, so I checked out -- an industry leader. There was no link to reddit. Shocker.

Not that I was actually going to participate in this link exchange, but I still felt a bit cheated. Nonetheless, it was time to come clean.
I'm sorry, Dev, I was just messing with you.

I didn't think you would respond -- most spammers don't.

Don't take this the wrong way, but I think what you're doing is pretty reprehensible. Really, does anyone still trade links in these schemes??

Anyway, best of luck with your future partners (spam recipients?),
I haven't heard back yet. Maybe I need a new hobby.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

three talented designers recreate the omaha beach landing on a shoestring budget

Found this one on reddit. It's an amazing example of what a few creative people can do with some fairly basic technology. I just wish they'd left the horse in the final version.

This is far superior to the reenactment I did when I was in Normandy; one person playing both sides without any camera trickery just looks like a crazy guy running around on the beach.

why we can't trust the french

Here's proof that the bear lobby is much stronger than anyone is willing to say. I took this photo in a Paris subway station:The title of this event is Bêtes et Hommes which my translator says means "Animals and Men" -- so why the picture of a bear?!

Now, I'm no zoologist, but I know there are plenty of other animals they could have used for this advertisement. Why not put the friendly silhouette of a hippopotamus*, or the awkward outline of a giraffe?

But instead the French caved to the bear sympathizers. This kind of blatant pandering to the Ursidae family would never be tolerated here in the U.S.

Don't look for any help from us,
Jacques, when the bears storm your cities and pillage your croissants. You brought it on yourself.

And now, a poorly voiced-over montage of Colbert:

*OK, so the hippo actually one of the most dangerous animals to humans (excluding the mosquito, which would be a lame choice for an animals poster). Don't tell the bears -- if you thought they were a threat to our country now, just wait until they found that out.

Friday, January 11, 2008

reddit & xkcd fundraiser pulls in 3K for EFF

In case you missed it from our dev blog:

I definitely learned a few things about fundraising strategies that I'll be sure to employ for next year, but we're still quite pleased with the attention and funding you all were able to give EFF. Within a little over a week (and well after you no doubt emptied your coffers for Ron Paul and Kucinich) you donated $3045.51 to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

This was admittedly a very last minute project, coming right on the heels of one redditor's self post. I'm aiming to do it again next year and with some proper planning, make it an even greater success. Along the way, I got some great suggestions and feedback from you, some of which we were able to implement as we went along (such as the awarding methods).

Speaking of which, if you were one of our top 10 donors or one of our first 50, you've been notified by me. If you still haven't gotten an email, don't fret, we're randomly selecting another 40 to win signed xkcd comics.

With some help from the postal service, I should be mailing out prizes next week.

Thanks again to all of you who participated, either by submitting/voting on a non-profit, telling a friend, donating, or doing all three while upgrading to dual-boot bsd.

Lastly, this couldn't have been pulled off without the generous contribution of xkcd -- I trust Randall's hand hasn't been sprained from all the signatures.

posted by alexis [kn0thing]

the world loses a hero

And the yeti still hasn't been found.

Sir Edmund Hillary died yesterday. Just last week I'd learned from a game of Trivial Pursuit that he was allegedly searching for proof of the abominable snowman on his Himalayan ascent.

Photographic evidence of the yeti:

But he'll be remembered for being the first to reach the summit of Mt Everest, solidifying the international reputation of Kiwis as badass outdoorsy folks. Until his death, he continued to do remarkable fundraising and humanitarian work for the people of the Himalayas.

News of his death quickly climbed (sorry, I couldn't help it) the reddit front page and the redditor who submitted it, ninzee, messaged me to suggest a special logo doodle. It was a great idea -- fortunately the alien isn't nearly as acrophobic as me.

May your legacy live on, Sir Edmund Hillary.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

it must be a sign

One of the many joys of traveling for me has always been foreign signage. Maybe someone can shed some light on what someone was thinking when he/she made this sign. And if you're ever visiting Tikal, you'll want to see the Mayan ruins and all, but be sure to find this sign.So I get the first one, something about not bringing a mace/club with you through doorways that are too small -- it could be misinterpreted by the inhabitants. The third one is also pretty straightforward, don't doodle on the artifacts. Fine.

But the one in the middle must forbid defecating in the wells? Potable water is way more fun.That, or don't sit on the artifacts. But I'd like to believe it's the former. Maybe that's why I'm not an archaeologist. Running around Tikal with my Indy fedora and whip didn't convince many people either...

I still think we'd all be better off taking sign design cues from Guatemala.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

i keep telling myself she's just acting

Thanks to YouTube, the entire world can enjoy this clip for generations to come instead of just hearing about it the next time from some co-workers.

I hope she's acting, or maybe she's just nervous like Miss South Carolina... or Sherri Shepherd... either way, before you start jumping all over her, at least she was smart enough to trust the 5th grader.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

a new redditor is born

OK, well, that's not necessarily true, but the world could probably use another geek baby.

Jeremy pointed me toward a comment on reddit yesterday that was from an interesting photo collection of start-to-finish pregnancy -- with triplets.

A redditor named brobak commented:
You know, I couldn't make this up if I tried. I am actually sitting in the hospital delivery room, with my wife. She's been in labor since 5am. Its...10:42pm as i write this. I hopped the hospital wifi, because there's not much for me to do now that she's on the epidural and resting(and yes, I am that much of a nerd that i'd actually post to reddit while in labor and delivery). She's stalled out at 8cm, and we're waiting for the petocin to kick in and see if we can push her over the edge to pushin' time.

We've only got a single in there, so she wasn't nearly that large, but i tell ya, its a hell of an experience. Here's hoping we can finish this up tonight. Wish me luck reddit.
It was a momentous day; the first time a baby was born live on reddit. Probably.

Either way, the response from the community was overwhelmingly positive and laced with a few good jokes.

We got an update from brobak later that night:
EDIT: Just wanted to post a follow up briefly. My son was born at 4:27am on the 8th. After 23 hours of labor, 2 hours of pushing, they decided that it wasnt happenening and went to a c-section. It worked out fine, and the kid came out fine, and in good shape. needless to say we're exhausted, but I did want to post a follow up and thank you all for your support. Thank you.
Success! A healthy mommy and baby brobak probably missed today's reddit logo getting some well-earned rest, but hopefully a few other redditors noticed the little babe in blue.

Apparently hospitals here in the States do this kind of newborn sex identification with little hats? I would use nail polish "B" or "G" like on a pet turtle, but that's just me.

Congratulations once again. It's a shame we don't sell reddit baby-tees or I'd send them one for baby brobak. Oh well, hopefully the logo will do. One day, when baby brobak is old enough, he's going to be really confused by all this :-)

Monday, January 07, 2008

2008 will be the year of poetic spam

Here's my obligatory New Year's greeting. I had a rather prophetic start to this year involving a spammer named Ираида, which I believe translates into eer-ey-ee-dah (Russian for "the spam bard"). I interpreted this to mean that all the spam we'll be getting in 2008 will be in iambic pentameter or haikus.


to a mortgage endowment.
I have contacted various
the documentation

playtime can create
successful children. Above all,
help them excel.

very beginning of
and author of
The superficial emptiness