Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Profile, Revisited

It is with great joy, and perhaps greater exhaustion, that we announce the release of our new member profiles. Literally every aspect of the original profiles was revisited and painstakingly improved, with the goal of making the site easier and more fun to use.

I won't bore you by providing a laundry list of new or updated features-- log in to Experience Project, check it out, and most importantly: let us know what you think. We *thrive* on your feedback. We also like sleeping from time to time, but that's not your problem now is it? ;)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fun with Search

Check out the new Zeitgeist-- which shows you daily and weekly trends in searches at EP, and the Search Snoop to watch what's being searched for right now. See what's on the community's mind, you trend-loving voyeur, you!

Beyond that, you can now subscribe to an RSS feed for any search result. Just search away and click 'subscribe' on the results page.

And don't forget to download our search plugin so you can search Experience Project from directly within your browser.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Weapons, Flowers, and Month 11

Good folks, on behalf of Experience Project, I want to wax poetic about the month of November, 2006. The thing that immediately comes to mind when I ask my brain to get emotional about this month is Guns and Rose's '"November Rain."

I'm certain that you remember this song and video. Axl (love that spelling) and Stephanie Seymour experience the rise and fall of love. A beautiful song from a group not known for ballads. But my initial reaction was that this had nothing to do with what I wanted to commemorate.

You see, November was a month of *unprecedented* growth for Experience Project. A gentleman never tells, but there are various numbers with multitudes of zeros attached to them behind that growth. We want to welcome each and every new member to our community with open arms-- we really like you, and we hope it shows.

Every day, we are building a better community. You talk, we listen, we talk (and listen), and most importantly-- we produce. We don't want to disappoint you. Ever. We believe in what we're doing from the very bottom of our hearts-- connecting people with themselves and others through the world of visceral life experiences-- and we won't stop, nay we *can't* stop, until everyone and their brother that can benefit from EP is a satisfied part of our team.

The features added in November kept me behind... I still have much blogging to do to introduce a few of them. And just you wait...what's coming in December is going to rock you senseless.

So now, November Rain playing away in my head... I realize that the song IS appropriate. It actually describes one of the underlying goals of Experience Project!

Don't ya think that you need somebody
Don't ya think that you need someone
Everybody needs somebody
You're not the only one
You're not the only one

When you're at Experience Project, you're not alone. You're among friends.

Thank you, November. And to our friends in the community, welcome again. We're all a part of something really special, and everyone benefits from *your* presence. Onward, upward... together.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Search us from anywhere

As with most content-heavy sites, one of the most popular features is search-- this obviously makes sense, as no matter how well laid out a site is, nothing beats finding exactly what you are looking for at the moment.

To that end, we are happy to announce the release of our free search plugin for Firefox 2.0+ and IE7+. What this plugin does is allow you to search the Experience Project directly from your browser, no matter where you are. And of course it's absolutely free, and absolutely useful.

To get it, either surf to the following web page:

Experience Project Search Browser Plugin


Just go to any page on Experience Project and click on the search bar in the upper right hand side of your browser, which should be highlighted. Follow the directions and happy searching!

Much more to come... this blog is having issues keeping up with the pace of the site!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Halloween Writing Contest

Every now and then we run fun contests to encourage people to think 'out of the box' and think about an experience long forgotten but extremely interesting. In the spirit of Halloween, our current writing contest explores near-death experiences: we're looking for stories where you almost died.

I know, that sounds morbid. But so is a holiday where we celebrate death. And in this case, we're celebrating NOT dying.

When people say 'near death experiences' they usually think of things involving a tunnel and a light. Most people cannot relate to that. But if you really think about it, we've all at some point been perilously close to being addressed as 'dearly departed.' Maybe you had a bad illness when you were a kid, maybe you were on a flight that was a little too bumpy, maybe a car smashed into yours... come to think of it, we're all lucky to be alive.

Share your story. Win $50 in Barnes and Noble Gift Certificates, or up to $15 in iTunes downloads. The contest is open to all of our members, new and returning.

Fpr details, check out the Halloween Writing Contest page.

And while you think of your own near-horror stories, you can take a look at the current submissions in the I Had a Near Death Experience group afor the Halloween contest.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

News about news

This is a self-referential posting.

I wanted to mention a few interesting things that have happened in the press and related.

First of all, just a few weeks ago Rafe Needleman published a nice writeup on Experience Project over at CNET.

Following that, we issued our launch press release.

Today, we realized we were mentioned in VentureBeat.

And today, one of the stories on our site (I'm not even going to link to it because it's got enough love already) ended up on the front page of Digg. Last I checked, it had nearly 800 diggs. Needless to say, this brought Experience Project to a grind. We took it offline as a preventative measure until the whirlwind blew over a bit. And yes, calls were made and servers were acquired in the meanwhile. Next time, I want Experience Project to face a Digg onslaught with a smug, 'what else do you got?' instead of an, 'is this over yet?!?'

A giant welcome to the many new folks in our community. We are so happy to have you with us, and as always, feel free to send us a line to let us know what we can do better. If we like what you have to say, don't be surprised when you see your suggestion enacted in less than 48 hours... ;)

New features

I don't even know where to start.

In terms of new features, there's a laundry list. We started with adding auto-tagging: every post automatically has keywords extracted from it and added to the post's tags. This makes finding new content *so much* easier, because two people may label an article about baseball in two different ways: "I love baseball" or "I love playing America's national pastime"-- but they both will inevitably use the word 'baseball' within the text. This would then be a tag applied to both entries, and a search for 'baseball' will return both relevant links, without having to resort to a full text scan. Yes, we do this tagging automatically, and no I won't tell you how. If you're interested, send us a resume.

What good is auto-tagging if there's no good way to show the tags we derive? Right! As a complementary feature, we introduced a snazzy new tag cloud that's always available. Wherever you go on the site, just click the big green "Explore" button hanging off the top menu, and you'll drop down a fresh list of tags that you can peruse to see what catches your fancy. I'm more of a hockey fan, myself... Oh, and you check out the Zeitgeist of our tagging world by going to the tags home.

We also added autocomplete functionality, so when you're typing in the main Experience box, the site will try to show you similar items. Maybe someone else already entered the experience, and so you can join the group rather than being a pioneer.

Sometimes in life, you don't like someone and you'd prefer not to interact with them. The same thing can happen at the Experience Project. So we added the ability to block users. Just browse over to a certain offensive someone's profile and hit 'block member.' You know what happens next.

There's tons more things that are fresh (we make the site better EVERY day, no exaggeration), but I'll only talk about one more because it's so useful. Now you can subscribe (or watch, whatever language you prefer), experience groups. Meaning that if you like a certain group, you can go ahead and tell the site to email you whenever there is a new story. We want to make sure you don't miss a story, and likewise make that process as convenient for you as possible.

OK, that's a quick rundown on the changes for the last few weeks. Hope you enjoy them, and as always, let us know what you think. We really like you, and we're going to try our hardest to make sure you feel the same about us. There will be another post like this in about a week's time. Watch out now.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

We have big Ears

Don't make fun of us, our ears just happen to be larger than most. I mean, when you talk, we listen. And we don't just listen, we LISTEN listen. We don't just hear you, WE HEAR YOU. (lol thanks Dane).

So it's with great pleasure that I announce two new features (no, we don't stop) today. First, we've introduced a site tutorial link on the profile page that walks you through what you can do once you sign in. The Experience Project is a large resource, and we don't want you to miss out on something really interesting because you didn't know it existed or how to get there.

And the second feature is simply such a huge improvement, it practically makes me emotional. It's a 'What's New' box on your profile page when you sign in. It shows you exactly all the new parts of life that people have shared, be it dreams, confessions, surveys, stories or experiences, since the last time you logged in.

These two features make the site easier to use and significantly more functional.

And listen, please stop sending us roses. We love you too, but there's simply no more room here. Donate to child hunger programs instead.

With these behind us (along with Face Scrub- it's been a busy week!), the feature we're working on now will blow the doors off. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

STIRR Founder's Mixer

I will be at the STIRR Founder's Mixer this Wednesday in San Francisco, for those interested in chatting live.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Face Scrub

One of the interesting challenges we face at The Experience Project is how to find the right balance between anonymity and personalization.

It is critical that everyone at the site stay anonymous, such that we feel comfortable sharing all kinds of experiences-- including sensitive topics. At the same time, we're all real people and don't like being boxed into bland categories.

We made a big step forward this morning with the release of our new 'face scrub' feature-- now when you upload a photo for your profile, you can tick off a box that says "My Face is in this Picture." When you do that, we'll automatically (try to) change your picture in such a way that makes your face unrecognizable, while still preserving some of the aspects of the picture that you found interesting in the first place. Of course, it won't always work, but it's added a nice new feature that will allow members to be even more at home at Experience Project without compromising the principles of the Project.

Our community is an amazing place to be, and it's getting more so every day. I hope to see you there, even though I won't know who you are! ;)

Oh, and how did that image look before we tackled it?

Have fun :)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

New features

Too much time developing leaves too little time for blogging.

Two exciting new features:

In response to many of your requests, we created a survey generator so you can automatically create questionnaire code for placement in other social network sites. This helps us get the word out about ourselves, while giving users a fun tool to play around with. Check it out here:
Create your own Survey

And our advertising engine is now in place... I'll have a lot more to say about this in a future post, but the sponsorship opportunities at The Experience Project are nothing short of remarkable. Since everything is organized into experiences, you are able to target your audience with laser focus-- and since we've chosen to make all ads plain-text links, sponsors also get a one-way text link from a highly relevant page to their own, which is quite nice for improving the advertiser's organic search engine results.
Advertise at the Experience Project

As always good folks, more to come. We're going through keyboards like underwear.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

August iTunes Promo

Beautiful people,

For sitewatchers that haven't yet noticed, we've been running an iTunes promotion this week to shed off some extra certificates we had built up. Join the site, share 3 stories, get 3 iTunes.

It's a surgical strike though, so move fast. It's over tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Our Myspace profile is now up:

Friend us! We want to be saying "Thx 4 the add" like a skipping CD player.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

As The Project continues to grow, we've been turning an increasing amount of our attention lately to usability and design improvements. First came the ceremonial Elimination of the Orange, and over the first few days of this week, we have redone the layout for both the Group (example page: I Lost My Religion) and Member profile pages (example: Administrator profile). Special thanks to Alex Vartan, a product manager at Google with a keen UI eye, for his inputs. To be fair to Alex, we didn't do everything he wanted.

Also in the category of improvements, we've done a wee better job of tying the dreams section of the site into the member profiles, with a direct link from each member profile that lets you see the dreams shared by that user.

Speaking of which, why have a dreams section in the first place? Dreams fit into The Experience Project quite neatly. Oftentimes they are intensely personal and sometimes even disturbing in their detail and superficial meaning, to the point where you may not feel comfortable sharing them with people you know. At the same time, they only make sense in the context of who you are. This apparent contradiction is precisely the type of thing that can best be shared in the anonymous but community environment available at The Experience Project.

Coming soon: Press coverage, and our very own MySpace profile. Our baby is, sniffle, growing up so fast.

Monday, August 21, 2006

One of the founding tenets of the Experience Project is that it remain predominantly an anonymous community. If people are to feel comfortable talking about the things that matter, they can't worry about being recognized by friends and family.

That being said, the anonymous nature of the site, combined with the ability to easily share experiences that members themselves find notable, have led to a significant amount of entries as of late that might be considered, well, adult-oriented. A good example would be the various people who enjoy introducing a third party into their relationships... (I'll have you know that I tried very hard to come up with the least shady description for that particular set of experiences... ;) ).

In any case, we have no inherent issue with this-- adult experiences are just as valid as those of a less salacious nature. But, as you well know, adult entries tend to be quite popular, and to a newcomer to the site, they might seem to dominate most of the 'popular' lists that we maintain on our Stories main page-- and thus send the wrong message about the site as to the scope of experiences represented. We talk about everything at the Experience Project-- all the experiences that make us who we are, and want to project that image consistently so people quickly understand the opportunity participating in our community presents.

As such, we added a filtering option today on the experiences page that allows one to selectively display or hide entries that the community have marked as containing adult content. We hope that this option is yet another step in the direction of making the site both more usable, responsive to the needs of our rapidly growing member base, and exposing the sheer range of experiences that would be valuable to share-- namely all of them that make up our lives!

And yes, for those you noticing the time of this post, working at a startup means weekends and late nights simply do not exist as distinct entities in and of themselves. They are the same as any other time-- in other words, spent making the site better! ;) I have to say it is an indicator of our passion for the success of this project that we find this amusing and not in the least disturbing. lol.

Until next time,

Saturday, August 19, 2006

We've completely redone the site navigation and layout. Gone are the orange pastels, my friends. I know, I know, you'll miss them. We'll hold a moment of silence Monday at 9am.

The new menus should give you easier, quicker and more logical access to the parts of the site you use most. Especially when you login, because the "You" link gets you directly to innards of Experience Project in one click (e.g., Mail, Your Stories, Your Experiences, and so on).

It's quite smurfy-blue, but we think it's an improvement. Let us know how you feel.

The Birth of a Blog, the Adolescence of a Site

Setting up a blog to keep our users informed of our comings and goings has been a long running goal, which we've only finally had the opportunity to do.

Yes it took about 8 minutes, especially since we decided to outsource this and simply host it at Google rather than rolling our own.

That being said, allow this to serve as a simple but grateful welcome to the official blog of the insanely progressive web community called The Experience Project. The mission of the Experience Project is very simple: To connect people who share common experiences for healing, support, growth and fun.

The Experience Project is a community with no real faces or names, but very real people sharing the equally real experiences of their lives. Instead of networking on who you know, such as at MySpace, Friendster, and so on, you network on who you are. We don't let you personally identify yourself so you can actually talk about things that matter without worrying about who will recognize you.

You list experiences you've had, then you share the stories. Other people do the same. In the process, you find people just like you, or you find people who have had experiences you might have, either by choice (like going to a taping of the Colbert Report), or by force (like having a sigmoidoscopy-- ouch!). In these situations, reading another's experience is incredibly reassuring, and offers the opportunity to ask questions from someone who actually knows what they're talking about. Writing about your own experiences, by the way, is an incredibly therapeutic thing to do.

There's much more to the site, but that should serve as a good introduction. Start by taking a quick poke around... check out some real experiences, or people sharing their stories.

And stay tuned to this blog, as we are a very fast moving organization that is highly responsive to the needs of our community. Our charter members have witnessed the rapid pace of improvement. We have no purpose if we're not serving you.

Until next time,
Founder, The Experience Project