16 December 2004 11 am | 5 pm est

In today’s Report:
Music for Elfports
Best Christmas Carol Maker Ever.
“Design Company of the Year”
Creativity honors Pentagram for a year of great design.
Kinja Fix it, Already?
Another day, another fake zeldman.

Music for Elfports

Zefrank’s free Carol Maker combines the fun of player-piano-style music composition and performance with the delights of controlling pixelicious animated musical elves and the joy of sending e-cards to your friends.

“Design Company of the Year”

The December 2004 issue of Creativity Magazine honors Pentagram for a year of spectacular work including:

...And many more. Some year! Congratulations!

Kinja Fix It Already?

Many of you have heard of Kinja, “the weblog guide.” Here’s how it’s supposed to work: Jane signs up for a free Kinja account. Jane visits her favorite weblogs. Jane’s “digest” on kinja.com tracks which sites she’s visited and which articles she’s read so her friends can read the same stuff.

For instance, presently user Megnut would appear to be reading Scripting News, Metafilter, Boing Boing, and Gawker. I use the phrase “appear to be reading” because it’s possible that Kinja’s Megnut isn’t really Megnut.

See, there’s a “zeldman” at kinja.com who appears to be reading Evhead, Megnut, Kottke, and Anil Dash. I admire this zeldman’s boldly unique taste in weblogs – his adventuresome desire to seek out the little-known blog worthy of greater exposure. I’d like to meet this zeldman, but I don’t believe he exists.

As far as I can tell, this “zeldman” is a fake user created by Kinja’s development team during alpha testing. As many of you know, it’s common, when building user-driven web products, to “seed” them with imaginary users. It’s also customary to remove the fake users before taking the product live. And it’s probably a good idea to give your fake users fake names, not real people’s names. That way, if you forget to remove the fake users when the product goes live, you aren’t inadvertently messing with a real person’s reputation.

The folks behind Kinja have had this fake zeldman up so long, it’s one of the highest-ranking zeldman hits at Google, which is how I stumbled onto it about a month ago. Potential clients of mine are also using Google to do research about me, and many of them will click through to the fake zeldman Kinja page and scratch their heads.

Kinja’s fake zeldman page doesn’t actively harm my reputation: the fake zeldman isn’t reading naked-bikers dot com or anarchist-bomb-throwers dot net. On the other hand, it doesn’t exactly help, either. And when your name is your brand, you’re supposed to protect it.

So I used Kinja’s Contact page to request that the company delete the fake zeldman account. But I might as well have written to my ass.

To be fair, I’m sure Kinja gets a lot of mail. Lord knows this website’s email in-box overflows with lovely letters I don’t have time to respond to. Same with A List Apart Magazine. There are more nice people sending email messages to zeldman.com and A List Apart than there are hours in the day to read and respond to them all. Semi-popular site minus budget for staff equals unanswered email. It’s a sad but common fact of web life. I’m as guilty as anyone of putting up a contact page and then lacking resources to respond to every attempt at contact.

Still, when you’re running a user-driven service like Kinja, the difference between success and failure can hinge on whether or not you respond to user feedback. I hope Kinja finds funding, and, when they do, I hope they spend at least some of it hiring staff to respond to their users. Now let the fake zeldman death watch begin.

Previously in The Daily Report...

It takes a train to laugh
En route to Boston, digging the beans out of Eric Meyer ’s Simple Standards-based Slide Show System.
ALA 189
Invasion of the Body Switchers
Suck it up
A personal note from the author
Spam wars, nothing but spam wars
What to give the aunt or uncle who has everything else
Crawling from the Wreckage
Back after a 16-day descent into hell. And not just back, but back with stuff. Zeldman video and interview. Non-Flash slides via Couloir and Clagnut. Goto Guides for good little web girls and boys.
That new parent smell
Photo Phunnies.
I confess
On the birth of our daughter.
You light up my iLife
We review Jim Heid’s The Macintosh iLife ’04.