BONER OF THE MONTH


March 1998 Boner

In April (1997) I was named by Websight Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world on the Internet. I am honored to be listed among the big players. No other person in the Web awareness-building industry was on that list. I consider it confirmation that one doesn't have to live in New York or San Francisco to have a significant industry impact. (The magazine then proceeded to go out of business just after I bought 50 copies of the issue with me in it)

Submitted by Eric Ward - http://www.TheWardGroup.com

Websight gives me my propers


(Old Expired Boners Below)

February 1998 Boner

Our website, Go 2 What's New, is a directory of hot new products. I was reviewing our visitor logs on a recent Monday morning and was surprised by the big jump in traffic we'd gotten over the weekend. Although I was patting myself on the back for producing so many visitors to the site, I couldn't figure out where this traffic was coming from. A check of the referrer log wasn't enlightening. The traffic wasn't coming via links, it was coming from visitors directly typing our URL into their browers and coming straight to the site. After quite a bit of head scratching and trying to figure out what marketing activity on my part had led to visitors to type our URL into their browsers, it finally dawned on me that the increase in traffic had nothing to do with my efforts.

Over the weekend, we had run employment ads for four separate positions in the Chicago Tribune. The increase in traffic was actually coming from job hunters trying to learn more about our company -- not the audience I was expecting.

There is a lesson in this though. Make your URL as ubiquitous as possible. Put it on every media you develop or distribute. Everyone that is exposed to your URL becomes a potential site visitor. You never know what's going to generate traffic until you've tried it.

Submitted by Dan Gordon - http://www.go2whatsnew.com


February, 1997 Boner

THE STORY OF YOLO DIRECT

Every new business goes through some growing pains, and an Internet business is no different. We started Yolo Direct, The Internet Yellow Pages for Yolo County, California, in the early months of 1996. We've had our share of growing pains (things are going much more smoothly now!), and we'd like to help others learn from our mistakes, in the same spirit that Bill and Randy have thoughtfully created StoogeNet to advance marketing on the Internet.

The most important advice we can share with other online entrepreneurs is this: choose your ISP well. Our first ISP (who must remain nameless here, sorry), almost seemed to be working against us at every turn. There were severe bandwidth bottlenecks that they claimed never happened, frequent system crashes, clueless technical support, even mysterious file deletions from our account. The president of the company told us lies and put us off with promises he never intended to keep--which only made sense to us later when we discovered he aspires to go back to school to become an attorney!

The worst incident occurred when they implemented a system change that required a "www" leading every URL on their system (a still-common useless redundancy that is beginning to fade into anachronism). This of course destroyed the URL that we had advertised for months without the "www", wrecking our marketing efforts up to that time. We had originally thought that we didn't need domain name registration, because our name fit nicely with their URL, but with the "www" our address became unwieldy and we wanted to prevent any kind of "system change" problem from ever happening again by establishing our domain name as "yolodirect.com". Well, it took them ELEVEN DAYS to implement Yolo Direct's domain name after InterNIC had it in their database, even though we contacted them almost daily to check on its progress! Why? It turned out that their system administrator has some kind of passive-aggressive personality disorder, so the more you ask him to fix things, the lower down the priority list you go! So even though domain name registration was eventually in place, by this time we'd had more than enough frustration and irritation to make us decide to move Yolo Direct to another ISP.

However, our second ISP had even more limited bandwidth capability than the first and was totally indifferent about our success (though not about our bill!). After a month, they still didn't have our domain name set up! So we told them hasta la vista, and put quite a lot of effort into seeking out a high-quality, service-oriented Web presence provider.

We found one. Don Merwin at SurfSpinner (www.surfspin.com) completed domain name registration for Yolo Direct in the two days before InterNIC was even done with the accelerated move! (That was when InterNIC was considerably slower than they are today). We have nothing but good to say about Don Merwin and SurfSpinner, and because of Don's integrity have entered into a close business relationship in which we are together building Internet Yellow Pages resembling Yolo Direct for other market areas in North America and the rest of the world. (We need lots of independent contractors to operate them--if you'd like to run one for your market area, please contact karl@dcn.davis.ca.us.)

The bottom line is, nobody should settle for shoddy or halfhearted performance in the present buyer's market for Internet services. Seek out a service-oriented ISP run by someone with integrity in your local area, or contact Don Merwin at surfspin@surfspin.com; he has clients all over the country. Shopping for Web presence services for your business primarily on the basis of price is probably one of the biggest mistakes you could make. You'll do best if you choose an ISP with integrity and who realizes that it's in their benefit for your business to become a great success on the Internet!

Submitted by Karl Simanonok - http://yolodirect.com


December 1996 Boner

I own a retail clothing/novelty business in the midwest US. I decided to put up a business site on the web. I chose to distribute herbal products for their ease of shipping and storage. After a month of learning HTML and another month of getting links to search engines, the hits and orders started coming in. Our first lesson learned was not to go with the Stooges in the brown suits to ship internationally. After realizing that a $20 package shipped to Spain would cost $80, we opted to go with USPS($3.00). Problem solved-business growing.

After 5 months of satisfied customers and steady hits, a Japanese company contacted me to import our products to Japan. This single order quadrupled our inventory from the profits. Unfortunately, in order to supply the Japanese company, I had to put the business in debt. Of course I would pay that debt off in 48 hours when the money came through via credit card. Wait...wait...wait. No money in the account after 1 week. Then a phone call from MY bank. I thought that they were just going to confirm that I had actually charged the credit card and it wasn't an error. Well they confirmed that and more. I was "politely" informed that doing credit card transactions was not viable on the web and they promptly cancelled my terminal and kept the money from the Japanese for 8 months. In two days my business lost $20,000 from this little fiasco.

I went straight to the top with this bank and NOBODY had the foggiest idea about ANYTHING. So I was stuck with $15,000 worth of product and no way to sell it. So after 3 months of this I have a few points to express:

  1. Your bank does not like the internet.
  2. If you do business on the web, your bank does not like you.
  3. There are many companies out there willing to take advantage of you when your bank is through with you.
  4. I know of ONE (1) legitimate bank that supports internet marketing.
  5. Key Bank sucks butt.
  6. Don't deal in fresh lettuce or other produce that would spoil before your bank calls you back.
  7. To be a successful business on the web refer to points 1-6

Submitted by Robert Moloch - http://www.hponline.com



May - November 1996 Boner

Not posting any Boners of the month.


April 1996 Boner

My father-in-law who is 89 and lives 200 miles away decided that he should learn about computers so he went and bought himself a Pentium with Windows pre-installed.

That night I received a phone call where he said "Well, I've got it switched on, what do I do now?" As he knew nothing about Windows the conversation proceeded along the lines of "Move the mouse so that the arrow on the screen is on top of the little picture above the word Main etc. etc".

After about half an hour of this detailed step by step instruction the conversation took a turn for the worse...

Father-in-Law: "I can hardly see the screen."

Me: "Why?"

Father-in-Law: "Every time you tell me to move the mouse I move further and further away from the computer and I'm now about 4 ft away from the screen."

To solve the problem, I literally told him to pick up the mouse and move it back to where he started.

Moral: Never underestimate the power of your words on a trusting audience!

Incidentally, since then we have managed to install several programs and get him linked to the internet - all via phone calls because he wants to learn by himself rather than have me come down and show him - God knows what his phone bill will be. Heaven help him if he ever finds the StoogeNet Virus Page!

Story submitted by Dave Qua.


March 1996 Boner

Dear Stoogenet Guys (Bill & Randy):

Don't know if I can top your best e-mail horror story, but in September 1994, I was involved in an Internet project with a dozen universities and on a Sunday before the Monday of an internationally coordinated project, I calmly and unsuspectingly clicked on my e-mail in-box.

WooooooW, aaaaaahhh, ouuuuuh! About every other second the computer beeped a new message -- I had 2,387 new messages when I opened up my mail and they just kept coming! Can you imagine if I'd slept in or gone out to the market rather than checking my e-mail!!!!

But that's not the worst part: the messages not only came into MY e-mail, but also to the University where I had an account and into the courtesy account I had in care of my companion!

My SYSOP at the University was NOT amused! Don't even ask about my companion's comments: unprintable {:*0!

Panic city included: (1)calling a colleague who knew more about Unix than I or anyone in my household (like my cat Whisky could solve this problem???); (2) a phone call to the project organizer in Finland; and (3) begging and pleading with my companion to DO ANYTHING TO STOP THIS! (bleep, bleep, bleep...)

Used TELNET to try and clean up my University account, (which was like trying to sweep mud under the carpet! It does work in my kitchen, but in virtual space FORGET IT!). The SYSOP still had umpteem million messages on his system as he was keeping a friendly eye on what I was doing in case of problems ...

And all this because of a do-loop originating in Korea which was supposed to have a welcoming "Hello Students, Use your reply function to send your introduction to the Robot Project".

Moral of the story: "Check your e-mail on Sunday! Monday could be the start of a "Stoogey" week!"

All the Best from France,

Linda - thalman@wfi.fr

http://www.wfi.fr

WebFrance International (WFI, affectionately known as "woofie", was not born when this unfortunate incident happened! We're alive and well and haven't seen a do-loop since opening!)


February 1996 Boner

We're not the only ones who have bungled a Netscape Navigator download (see "Hall of Fame Boner"- if you haven't already done so). One of our customers recently downloaded a beta version of Navigator 2.0. However, Frank got busy with other projects and didn't have a chance to execute the file. About a week later, after a discussion about adding some Java applets to his site, he decided to do some surfing in search of "cool" Java demonstrations. After a December 14 call to us indicating his failure to see anything happening at Java sites, we reminded him to execute the Netscape 2.0 upgrade.

Two days later, Frank called in great disgust. He still didn't see anything special at notably "cool" Java pages. At this point, we went out to his location to try and uncover the problem. After a fair bit of muddling around, we discovered that the beta version of the Netscape browser he downloaded had expired on December 15. When Frank opened the Navigator 2.0 file and patiently followed the instructions in the dialog boxes, he assumed that version 1.22 was successfully being written over. The end result was that poor Frank spent not one, but two sessions fruitlessly searching for Java demos with a browser incapable of viewing them.

This certainly taught us to always check first for basic solutions to problems. Is the current or appropriate version of software being utilized? Have compressed new programs been unzipped and/or executed? Have the expiration dates on freeware and shareware programs been recorded?


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