SwarmSports returns to what it was before

On October 6th, 2013, I shut down what was SwarmSports at the time. It was something really cool that I built from the ground up. At the time, I didn’t have the time to keep updating the featured headlines section.

In the coming months it just ran as a place you could search for the latest sports news items on the sports that you loved to follow. While the background processes continued to archive the article data, it pretty much sat around with no front end to serve up the goods.

That was until today. I dusted off the files, and made a few tweaks to what was already there. Introducing RE-Introducing – SwarmSports – returning to what it was before. You have ~30+ or so featured articles that have pictures. I also added sports categories that should help further engagement site. I hope you all enjoy the new version of SwarmSports.

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ViralRank Dashboard : Fun way to use it!

Here is a fun way to use ViralRank Dashboard.

While your hosting service (in this case – HostGator) is having an outage, and it’s not this site’s hosting service, you can use the built in twitter connection to search and read the latest tweets on that subject. The same way you can use it to find new twitter friends that enjoy your team or sport.

watching_all_the_bitchy_tweets_about_hostgator_via_viralrank_dashboard

One Year Ago….

Two crazy carefree ex-startup dudes started this site. SwarmSports.

We thought we could make something cool that people would use daily to check out their favorite sports news. We were wrong.

People had no use for our idea or our site. No worries, as the remaining founder of this site, I decided that even though no one uses it, it was originally created for at least two sports enthusiasts to use. At least one of them is still using it from time to time.

One year in, and another year to go. At least for this domain name. Happy One Year Anniversary SwarmSports and around the corner in a few months, ViralRank.

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New Feature : Latest Headlines

Just added a really simple feature. It’s called the latest headlines feature. Since we have a ton of data processing every day, pretty much every hour, maybe you all don’t want to search for news in particular. Like the original SwarmSports, but without the ViralRank feature. Just powering off our already enabled RSS feed.

See the latest sports headlines linked to the original source articles now.

latest stories

 

I’m using the readily available Google RSS feed script. I have posted the script ready to copy / paste over on my personal blog if you want to have your own SwarmSports feed on your site.

Random Sports News via SwarmSports

We have a bunch of data now. And one way to enjoy the data is to see it randomly. Today we deployed a random button which works like this. You click the button.

random

You get back one of the nearly 500,000 articles we have in our database. You can choose to click to it. You can choose to roll the dice again and see if you can get a more interesting sports article. You can see how old the article is, and maybe read it, or pass on it by choosing to have another article delivered to the screen.

random story

Or you can kick back and have that article delivered right into your browser.

the redirect

Here is a quick screencast video of this on another random sports article:

You must have Flash to view this file

Pitfalls of Solving the Personal Problem

The main idea behind most startups is that they are solving problems. Most problems are not even recognized as an issue at all, until the startup brings it to the attention of the world and investors. One of the most common pitfalls a startup can run into, and also the reason I’m writing this, is the solving of the Personal Problem which is not a Global Problem.

Here goes my story of SwarmSports (and ViralRank) and why it failed. The main reason was that the entire time we, my co-founder at the time who declared this to be a problem, solved a non-issue. We were set to solve this glut of sports sites news, but there really was no problem to be solved! It was more of a Personal Problem that really was an annoyance at best. It was your true skewing of reality that made a Personal Problem seem like a Global Problem.

Early on as we let others know of our site, there should have been warning flags that told us that we were just solving a Personal Problem. In all of our feedback from people who saw the site, the main thing that was repeated over and over was the lack of design. Also mentioned was that the site seemed to be in another era of the internet in general. Where as the problem that was solved may have been something that was a real issue in say circa 2006, it was no longer looked upon as a real Global Problem.

Instead of taking stock in the feedback, we kept pushing ahead with solving this so called problem. We put more effort into design aesthetics as best as we could. Neither one of us was a designer by any means, and we both felt the product wasn’t visually appealing. None of this should have been something we worried about. There still was absolutely no interest in the product or the Personal Problem we were solving and mandating that it was a Global Problem.

While we both had a feeling that SwarmSports was turning into a big failure, instead of giving up the project entirely, we started to feel that maybe the product called ViralRank had some worth since it was more of analytical product that might have a worthwhile place in other industries besides sports. This new currency, as my co-founder had called it, was just like how Klout sprung up and declared a number that they calculated was the way to rank people’s social worth.

Wrong again! I left the promotional efforts of SwarmSports in the hands of at the time my co-founder to evangelize. The product was about as good as it was going to get, and we needed user validation or adoption. We also were running out of runway to make a product that would attract some sort of user adoption. During the last month or so of leaving the SwarmSports product in his hands to promote, I worked on the ViralRank Dashboard as our possible winning formula.

The runway for both my co-founder and I came to a screeching halt. We both had to get regular day jobs, and that pretty much closed down the product that was still evolving. My co-founder at the time decided he didn’t want to put any further effort into it, and I took over both products as the sole founder. This was mutually agreed upon, and there was a peaceful end to the partnership.

Where did this all go wrong?

Basically from the get go!

Developing a fix for a Personal Problem that isn’t a Global Problem was the main issue that killed this project from ever becoming something everyone needed to use.

The promotional efforts failing to garner any user adoption should have stopped us from developing the product any further. We should have examined what was not working promotion wise instead of spending the time to develop the product further.

Lastly, expecting to sell the world on a currency (ViralRank) on a product that failed, and also using a term that was already used once and failed, was just another nail in the coffin of the entire project.

Could this product (SwarmSports or ViralRank) have ever been successful?

Possibly if we had acknowledged that we were solving a Personal Problem and not a Global One. We should have tried to work on customer adoption sooner vs later in the game. We should have done all that as well as evangelize the product in a better way than we did.

While we had a failed product, and we worked on a Personal Problem and not a Global One, the product could have survived to evolve further if things were handled differently. Or then again, maybe we solved one person’s Personal Problem and that is something cool that we did at the end of the day.

I’m very disappointed at how the startup went, but at the same time, I believe I gave it the best possible effort to make it succeed. Even after my co-founder left, I tried a few things as a one man startup to get some sort of user adoption. Even the last stab in the dark at some sort of user adoption with custom page’s turned into a complete failed effort. This has said to me that no one wants the product, nor do they find the product useful at all.

Lesson Learned: Solve the Global Problem, and leave your Personal Problem for your own personal time to solve. Involving or mixing the perception that there is a problem (it’s personal!) with some faded reality of it being a problem (real global issue!) will kill your startup before it even gets out of the gate.

SwarmSports Announces Custom Sports Page

SwarmSports has a lot of data now that we have been around coming up on one year. While the core team is now just one person, and the service is basically on auto pilot mode since about October of 2013, there is still a general belief that this is a useful service for those that want to keep up on sports news that matters to them.

So, as of today, you can now have your own SwarmSports custom sports page.  Just sign up for your own custom sports page.  For now, it’s limited to just two sports headlines that matter to you. Depending upon how popular this becomes, the service might expand and custom pages with more than two sports headlines that matter to you might be offered. We also are going to limit this to one custom page per user. The last part of course, you can freely game as I’m not going to verify each email address to make sure you are not someone else that already has a page setup!

When I first started kicking around this idea in my head, my first thought was a newsletter service.  A newsletter just wouldn’t offer that level of “right here, right now” type of service. Our technology checks the feeds several times a day to have our finger on the pulse of the ever changing and consistently updating sports world. A newsletter in this case would offer more of a disservice to the true sports fan that wanted to read the latest articles on the sports headlines that matter to you.

Here is an example Bay Area Sports page that I set up to give you a clear picture or example of what this service is:

BayAreaSportsPage

 

The top 5 latest headlines for 4 of the Bay Area’s professional sports teams.  With this custom sports page service, ViralRank also returns, so when you are short on time, if there are two or more like articles, you can choose the most viral one to read. Along with your own custom sports page, you’ll receive your own login access to our ViralRank Dashboard service, we’ll send you that login information with your custom sports page of sports headlines that matter to you.

One last thing, we still have the main site, so if you need to get another sports fix outside of your custom page, you can still search for it via SwarmSports. We hope you enjoy the new service by giving it a go and creating your own Custom SwarmSports page.

Note: Please allow time to set up your destination page.

ViralRank Dashboard Chart Issue Fixed

The other week I noticed that the ViralRank Dashboard Google Charts had broken. They were no longer working. I made a mental note of it to fix and prioritized that with the rest of everything I have going on; you know since << sarcasm mode ON >> sooooo many of you have written to say what a useful service it was << /sarcasm mode OFF >> 

Seriously though, it bugged me that this product was broken when it should just continue to operate just fine until I decide that it’s not useful or fun. I spent a few hours trying to debug the issue today, when it became painfully apparent, the issue was one of the social services I was pulling in a count from. I won’t say which one, as my opinion of the service they actually provide is less than steller; in fact I think it’s pretty lame (of course the VC’s disagree with me as it’s a highly funded company).

They have been removed, and Google chart awesomeness has returned. I know you all care, so show me some love by leaving me a comment if you wish or (re)tweeting this post to let people know.

ViralRank – it’s still free to use, just register your email and have fun learning more about your viral’ness or what is working and what isn’t. Plus it’s a hella easy way to figure out who you should follow on Twitter too. Just sayin’! It’s useful if you can read the data and interpret what it all means for your blog post, your article, etc…

vr dashboard

SwarmSports Android App

Created a SwarmSports Android app for anyone that would be interested in having the latest Sports Headlines that Matter to You on their android mobile device. It should be in the Google Play store in a few hours; just search for SwarmSports.

You can find it in the Google Play Store – SwarmSports

You can also download it via the AppsGeyser page – that one is the .apk file, so you’ll need to allow it to install:

promo appsgeyser screenshot

Until then, you can download and install the .apk file (you have to allow that) via AppsGeyser where I created the app.

The Slight Glitch, Not Fixed, Now it is Fixed

The slight glitch reported here last time, about ~8 days ago has finally been resolved. This was not an issue that was in control of this site. It was my web hosting service cPanel team that had to fix things.

As you know, we are on auto pilot these days. The scripts that make SwarmSports – Sports Headlines that Matter to You actually worth visiting, stopped working. The scripts I wrote are fine. Nothing has changed. Unfortunately the cronjob system failed.

I put in a ticket last week when I realized the supposed one thing I did fix which really didn’t need fixing wasn’t the main issue or the problem at all. It was that while my hosting service said (and could show logfiles) that the cronjobs were running as scheduled, they really were simply NOT running at all. They’d show as running, but none of the commands or rather the scripts were being executed.

~January 9th – ~January 17th are just unfortunately going to be a time where we just won’t have the data for those Sports Headlines that Matter to You – but we move forward! This weekend we have the NFL conference championship games with the 4 best teams left. I’m just glad the system is up and running again just when it really matters.