In Search of Entrecard Mates & Matches  

No, this isn't a post about an Entrecard dating service. The recent Firestorm nonsense has driven home how differently I am wired than the raucous crowd that has moved its clubhouse temporarily to the batcave. Amidst tears, depression, wringing of hands, and I-just-can't-let-this-go outbursts, the big kitty in the Firestorm sandbox was silenced and then promptly chose to go spray his essence somewhere else. This of course outraged at least a couple of dozen of his closest Entrecard buddies, some of whom swore off participating again in the forums, but decided to still keep their accounts active. What a sign of support! Help me Rhonda. Naturally, they who were the bullies are playing the victim and the fist shaking goes on and on.

Ho hum. Entrecard isn't going to die because of this, or the last pricing system change, or any of the other reasons folks have pointed at as their excuse for leaving Entrecard over the past 8 months. There will always be flamboyant departures and predictions of Entrecard's impending doom, and just as in true in real life, others will step up and fill the void. Adios and good luck to you, and thanks for any drops you made on my blogs.

What I realized is that I really don't like these people, the drama kings and queens, the bullies, the Firestormers, the whole group of self-proclaimed Entrecard A-listers. I don't like the way they process information, the way they handle their emotions, their crude language and classless humor, etc., etc. Which raises the question of "Where are the people I would like better in the Entrecard Community?"

My days of dropping 300, 600, 900 cards or more are done. I don't believe that Graham will be able to maintain the $9.50/1000 Exchange rate for ECs and a fully functioning, non-manipulated Exchange will have a credit vendor getting around $3/1000. That's not enough to justify any time specifically for earning credits. Accumulate 20000 ECs over a couple of months and sell them should you choose for $60 and that will help pay your hosting fees, etc. Also, the next big change in the Entrecard community is going to further encourage meaningful interaction over pure card dropping. Like it or not, Graham is dedicated to making us better Entrecard Community members.

OK, sure, why not? I've given up on the idea of being an Internet Marketer and I'm no longer farming credits, so I'm left with the idea of being a blogger...who really needs to find some mates (as in buddies) whose personality and style "match" my own. I'm not even going to limit my scope by blog topic, world region, gender, marital status, or educational background. Nope, I'm just on a quest to find a few people like me in the Entrecard community...if any others even exist, strange bird that I am.

As far as the forums go, I'll still throw in my 4 ECs worth now and then, primarily to do my part to help Graham as best I can. I guess one benefit of the Firestorm fiasco was it shook the fence and caused me (and perhaps some others) to decide whether to support Graham or take potshots at him. I choose the former.

Entrecard Catfight!  

There's been a firestorm in the Entrecard Forums and here's some of my comments that were recently posted there:

"The thread everyone seems to be focused on was not the first time that certain folks had crossed the line of civility in these forums, whether it be in the name of humor & wit, free speech, or lively debate. (Guilty as charged.) I agree with Woobie's statement and further feel that over time the "witty" comments that were bouncing around here with regularity had become an unacceptable norm, no matter how entertaining to some people. It doesn't really matter how things came to a head, the point is that Entercard stepped in and correctly a situation that had gotten out of hand."


"I don't agree that the "little guy" is hurt by the changes that have been made to Entrecard since January, mainly because the little guy still has the ability to promote their blog via card dropping, advertise on other Entrecarders' blogs with credits instead of cash, and comment in the forums and on others' blogs. Entrecard is easier to use now than it was in January, there are 5x the blogs in the community, and there are better features for accomplishing the primary goal of most Entrecarders, that of promoting their blogs.

As far as censorship goes, even those in the world who enjoy free speech accept that there are limits to that free speech. I don't believe that these forums were designed to provide a venue for free speech, which can more effectively be accomplished via our own blogs anyway. It's great to get a healthy conversation going where the different sides of an issue (eg-powerdropping versus chain-dropping) can be presented in a civil manner, if that debate benefits the Entrecard community, to which end Entrecard has engaged Moderators to watch over the forums.

I haven't liked all the changes that have been made to Entrecard since January, but I do like the fact that Graham and Phirate are making changes and continuing to try and improve this service. This Firestorm brouhaha will have barely died down before the next one starts up, which I predict will be in about 5 or 6 days."


"Hold an event at a public park and there is an expectation of free speech with limited moderation. Hold that same event at someone's home or place of business and free speech is limited by the ground rules set by the property or business owner. I never perceived that these forums were "free for alls." There is a specific purpose for each Entrecard forum and they are moderated to make sure that Entrecard's desires for the forums are not subjugated to those of individual Entrecarders.

These forums--by design--are different in their appearance and function than most forums many Entrecarders will have encountered in the past. (Perhaps Phirate could link to the site that explains the reasoning behind this type of forum design.) And it's not like it's easy to figure out the ground rules here, as with other aspects of the Entrecard experience it seems like self-discovery is part of the agenda, Entrecard E-book notwithstanding.

In my opinion, the strength of the Entrecard community is not determined by what Marcus, or Deimos, or Sam, or any individual Entrecarder adds to the forums or the overall community. The strength of Entrecard is that there is a steady stream of bloggers who are eager to publicize their blogs and increase their readership via a free service that has greater utility and quicker payback than most communities or services that they have encountered anywhere else. I miss some of the Entrecarders who were active in January and February and no longer participate, just as some of those who were Firestormers will be missed should they choose to opt out of Entrecard as a result of the hubbub over the past couple of days. But Entrecard is bigger than any of us and will continue to roll on, bumpy ride and all...or at least I hope it does."


The EntreCream Rises to the Top  

I've been impressed many times in my nearly 6 months as an Entrecarder, but I can't recall a time when an intervention was made by the EntrePowers that had me tipping my hat to Phirate more than the creation of the new Firestorm forum. I'll admit to occasionally losing my cool in the forums and posting something I probably shouldn't have and usually regret soon thereafter. I'll further admit that I just don't understand how people can be so routinely rude to others and the best explanation I can come up with is that they are bullies or impotent human beings seeking to feel better about their miserable lives by dumping on other people. I have a clear picture of the first time I bumped up against what I would call a bitter, negative soul and I was shocked by the experience. I suppose I should have felt sorry for them, but honestly, I just couldn't believe that a person could take such obvious pleasure in randomly blasting anyone who crossed their path.

I've been equally puzzled by the group of 10-20 Entrecarders who have recently taken over the Entrecard forums and seem to have succeeded in lowering the standard level of civility to match their modus operandi and descend like a pack of wolves on anyone who might innocently misspeak or ask a question that a 5th grader could have answered. Yes, that is the norm for many forums out there and yet it hasn't been the norm in the Entrecard forums. True, Sam was controversial and Turnip seems to enjoy slapping folks on the side of the head on a regular basis, but those were rare exceptions to a generally cordial forum.

I've run into similar situations in the real world where a small group of people change the rules of behavior on a team or in an office to a more coarse, ruder, or less civilized level because the "gang" is all accepting of said degradation. What I found most interesting about the recent Entrecard forum activity is that the gang members were vocal in their support of each other's behavior as normal and acceptable and that Entrecard or the occasional random victim must be the abnormal ones. Maybe it's akin to people who are losing their hearing being unable to fully comprehend that they are now normally speaking louder than the average person. The gang thinks they are in the right and are battling Entrecard with the idea that their little group is reflective of the community at large and Entrecard got it wrong.

Sheesh. I've encountered this mindset before. 80% (or more) of college professors rate themselves as better than average and I'll bet the percentages are about the same for how we view ourselves as drivers, husbands, etc. It's why I refer to myself now as an average driver and am trying to make it up to being an average husband. I'll admit that I am likely more confrontational than the average Entrecarder and accept that I have to try harder in the forums to be more civil. It's a hard thing to admit...but I'll man up and do a better job.

What? I'm not being entirely civil here on my own blog? No, I didn't say I was committing to be perfect, just to try harder when I post in the Entrecard forums. I'll have to decide whether or not I will venture into the Firestorm forum. I'm not fooled by the gang's arguments of free speech or the need for intelligent debate. Those are weak attempts to justify their bullying and rude behavior. I learned earlier this year (when I had one of my blogs make the front page of Digg) that dark humor succeeds as it appeals to the baser instincts of many people. The Firestorm forum will likely end up as the most popular Entrecard forum for similar reasons, which is the reason that I won't be visiting there very often, if at all.

So it's two thumbs up to Phirate for insisting the majority of the Entrecard forums take the higher road and remain a place where folks can learn from each other and ask dumb questions on occasion without running the risk of being gang-tackled.


Entrecard Burnout, Turnover, and Its Soaring Future  

I first posted the following in the Entrecard Forums a few days ago:

"When I first showed up here in late December there was a core group of Entrecarders who frequented the forums and were the "regulars." Most of those folks don't participate anymore, and I've now seen another generation of regulars come and go. Sometimes it is related to burnout, sometimes they get irked at the latest round of changes, but it really doesn't matter why they leave, the point is they leave and Entrecard survives without them. I'll bet that some of the folks who have commented in this thread will be done with Entrecard within the next 30 days...but another 1000 will have taken their place. This place continues to change and the Entrecard you joined is not the Entrecard you will leave.

The fact remains that Entrecard is a tool that a blogger can use to build their readership and Graham is trying valiantly to turn the community into something unique that goes beyond just a being a traffic exchange. Whatever action he takes is guaranteed to irk hundreds of Entrecarders and there is no way that a consensus is going to be reached as to what changes are best. So he might as well go ahead with what he thinks will be best and keep moving forward, no matter how unpopular the changes might seem to the current regulars, because the folks who join next month won't know anything about what the norm used to be."

I guess I've signed up for over 100 of what could be called social networking sites in the past couple of years. Occasionally I have arrived after the heyday, like with emode.com, now called Tickle.com, part of the Monster.com family. I really liked Tickle.com but could tell that 12 months earlier would have been the time to be there to experience the highest level of site social interaction. I got in early with Twitter, only to discover what many others have discovered, that I just don't have enough friends who will care to read what I am doing at any given point during the day. I've joined Bebo, Friendster, Myspace, Tagged, Hi5, Orkut, Facebook, etc., etc., and don't use any of them on a regular basis with the the exception of Facebook.

Most social networking sites are naturally reluctant to publish user stats due to their ugliness. Sure there are 235,716,786 folks in my Myspace network, but how many use the site on a regular basis? People just like me sign up and then never go back, or stay involved long enough to determine that THIS particular social networking site is not their Utopia and off they go in search of the next new big thing. All of this is normal and to be expected with such low barriers to entry as exist in most social networking sites. Thanks to Mashable.com I've been able to get some invites to beta versions of emerging sites and have found that it still doesn't make a difference in my interest level. The truth is I'm not at all social and have little reason to network. Oh, I've tried to push some businesses via social networking sites, but in the end no one cared enough to buy anything.

My Entrecard experience has been different than that of other social networking sites, in part because the focus was on blogging more than what type of music I liked or the best sleazy pics I could publish of myself standing half-naked in front of a mirror. Don't get me wrong...I'm not really a blogger. I don't have that thing inside of me that begs to get out onto the page and shared with the rest of the world. I don't read other blogs, I rarely comment on other blogs, and my main purpose in joining Entrecard was to promote some business opportunities, which I have long since left along the side of the road. However, I have to admit that it was fun and engaging to drop cards (at least at first) and figure out how to do so in an efficient manner. Within the first couple of weeks I was an Entrecarder someone (Josh Whitford?) started selling Entrecard Credits via ebay and things got very interesting, very quickly. Before long I had started another 9+ Entrecard accounts and was on my way to being an EC vendor.

However, Entrecard is not a static entity and what was a good idea in January wasn't such a good idea in April. At one point I had 22 active Entrecard accounts and was updating them somewhat regularly. Doing so, along with trying to drop 1000+ cards a day took its toll on my passion for Entrecard and I knew I had burned out, a sentiment shared by others in the community. Some people just stopped updating their blogs or dropping cards altogether. It didn't really matter, because there were 1000s of new Entrecarders joining the ranks each month, full of interest and excitement about this new tool for promoting one's blogs. The newer guys, as I had been in late December, didn't encounter the same Entrecard that earlier members had joined. They took for granted features that we cheered about when they were finally implemented. They demanded better features and complained about the status quo, just as we had done when we were Entrenoobs. And that's when it hit me. This was a cycle that would repeat over and over again, and the only question was whether or not Graham could keep Entrecard going and growing long enough to get it off the ground and flying under its own power. Entrecarders were necessary fodder, with none being individually necessary. It doesn't really matter that the same 200 people post in the forums on a daily basis, because next year there will still be 200 people posting in the forums, even if Turnip is the only one in both groups. It really is about the community...and the fulfillment of Graham's vision.

No worries...Entrecard did for me what it was supposed to do. It gave me an opportunity to promote my blogs and gain readership, but more importantly it gave me the opportunity to see if I was a true, dedicated blogger or just a dabbler. It also let me try my hand at Internet Marketing, blog layout and design, and online interaction with others. What I learned is that I am not a true blogger, I suck at Internet Marketing, and I'm more comfortable with Blogger than Wordpress. Oh, and interaction with others? Entrecard Forum participation is a harsh reminder that the world is full of idiots and jerks and I likely only enjoy each day because I don't come into contact with the bozos that lurk in forums.

I do hope that Graham succeeds in creating an Entrecard community that endures and successfully transitions into Web 3.0, the Semantic web. And while I doubt that I will still be an active Entrecarder if and when that happens, I'll be able to say I was one of the first to be an Entrecarder, and perhaps the only one known as The Entrecarder.


Entrecard Starts Selling Credits!  

Make a note of the the date, June 3rd, 2008, as it will be THE day that makes or breaks Entrecard as a viable business. The much talked about and long awaited Entrecard Credit Exchange was partially implemented on June 3rd, 2008 and it is now possible to buy Entrecard Credits (ECs) directly from Entrecard. Coming soon will be the full implementation of the Credit Exchange where individual Entrecarders can sell their own ECs anonymously to other Entrecarders, which is even a bigger and more important development. But for the time being, let's congratulate Entrecard for their boldness and wish them great success in their attempt to create a viable web currency with real dollar value.

To be sure, Entrecard isn't going to get rich from the spread they are making on the sale of Entrecard Credits. Currently they are buying the ECs they are offering for sale from trusted Entrecarders at $7.50 per 1000 and they have Paypal fees to account for when they sell them at $9.50 per 1000. The small profit they will make will help pay for servers and other necessary expenses, but isn't going to be what makes Entrecard a financial winner. No, the reason that this is a big move for Entrecard is that it provides a reason to stay in the Entrecard community for years instead of just a few months, and that's what will help build Entrecard into a viable web property, ripe for the picking by cash-laden Internet biggies.

The mere fact that Entrecard could sell approximately 40000 ECs at $9.50 per 1000 shows that a captive market are more important that good market information. The current price of ECs via 3rd party vendors is around $3 per 1000, although that price should rise and needs to rise if the Credit Exchange is going to work. The big advantage Entrecard has isn't the "trust" or "convenience" they are touting, but instead is the ability to advertise on each member's dashboard. The EntreBank and other 3rd party EC vendors have been selling ECs since January and most--if not all-- of the transactions have been completed quickly and without a hitch, using Paypal just as Entrecard does. However, I believe the point will soon be moot as once the Credit Exchange is fully functional there will be little need for 3rd party vendors and Entrecard will likely ban the practice so as to control all the sales of Entrecard Credits and reduce the likelihood that someone will abuse the system by creating splogs specifically to farm and sell ECs.

So, the first shoe has dropped and hopefully we won't have to wait another 3 months for the other one to hit the floor heralding the arrival of the Entrecard Credit Exchange. What a great day to be an Entrecarder!