- IDE’s, code style, static analysis…
- Javasrcipt testing
- profiling and performance tuning
- “building” a project
1. Set the tone of the community
It is important that your users have a positive experience when participating in your community. Make sure that there is a process to manage highly negative and harmful contributions. One community that has done a great job of this is Stack Overflow. They use a “Karma” system to allow active members in the community to police both positive and negative content. This is a great example of how to monitor the community without having to specifically appoint people the job.
2. Participate in your own community
This might seem like common sense, but it’s incredibly important that your users feel that you are paying attention to them. Your own participation is a great way to achieve this and to contribute to tip 1. Having a consistent, prominent presence in the community will set the tone for everyone.
3. Recognize your top contributors
It is important the you give back to the people that help you most. In an on-line community that’s most likely the top contributors. Make sure that you give them a shout-out every once in a while. There are many easy ways to do this: one of the ideas I like best is mentioning high contributors in a public place like on twitter, or having a top users section on your site. Whatever you do though, make sure it fits in with the tone of the community that you are creating.
4. Give out feedback for achievements
There are a lot of things that can get your users to contribute, but one of the most effective is to set up a status system. Users should have a way to be recognized by their peers for what they have done. An excellent example of this is the badge system by Stack Overflow. In their system they have many types of badges with several levels of difficulty to achieve. This system encourages users to continue to contribute, while giving them lots of achievements along the way.
Another effective method to get users to complete tasks is a status bar like that seen on your LinkeIn profile. It shows the percentage of the profile that has been filled with simple steps to get another 5%. Every time I open my linked in profile I feel the need to complete a new step to get to that magical 100%.
5. Get high profile contributors
Something that many people overlook is how important it is to have respected, high profile contributors. The reason this is so important is that it brings a good deal of credibility to your community. When you are trying to build a community, it is often difficult to get users to read your content in enough detail to build a sense of credibility. Having recognizable names contributing gives you the instantaneous credibility that you need to get people to join in and participate.
Here at Upverter we occasionally get asked questions like: “Are you guys insane?”, “You used to have real jobs?”, and “You quit to do what?!?!” mostly in reference to us telling stories about how we used to exist in the real world with everyone else. One of our favorite questions to get is “What made you jump?”, because the answer is so different for each of us. But we do share a bit of overlap in who planted the seeds, you know, that little voice in the back of our heads that was saying jump. And that’s what I want to share today, our startup inspirations.
Peopleware + The Mythical Man Month These books were absolutely eye-opening for me. How could it be possible that 30 years ago (before I was even born!) someone wrote a book demonizing all of the things that I was pretty sure were bad for productivity, but had no good way of saying? How could these guys be so, so right, so long ago, and yet so much is still the same? For us a startup lets us listen, and set the right priorities – we can make people important, and we can give them a great place to work.
The Upverter Tenants of Success
- Be bold, decisive, and wrong. Its OK to fail for trying, but not because you ignored a problem. Agreeing to disagree is not acceptable!
- It’s all about execution. Try and imagine the number of good ideas that fail, and the number of bad ones that win. Its not about the idea, or the product, or the technology – its about getting it done. This is why people are so important.
- Have fun. Time is the worlds most precious resource. We all die – we all run out of time. Do what you do because you love it. And make sure those around you love what they’re doing.
- Do the right thing – everything else will work out. Do right by people. Do right by employees. Do right by customers. And when picking between two options, pick the right one.
- Be relentlessly resourceful. Kind of a summary tenant, but one regardless. Find a way to make it work. Find a way to make money. Find a way to build a business. Find a way to sleep, eat, and hack.
A large number of people are searching for circuit circuit. Really? I was curious to learn what on earth the people that search for circuit circuit could possibly be looking for, so I added one to the millions of monthly global searches to find that even Google doesn’t know. On the first result page in Google is the following:
- 1 electronics store
- 1 story about a migrant family
- Google news related to the stock market
- 3 US Circuit Court pages
- 2 electrical circuit pages
- 1 car racing page
- 1 page about film
So what do I do with this new found pot of search gold? Nothing. With search results like that we might be able to get to the top of the Google ranks, but the question quickly becomes why bother? There lies the most important question when selecting a set of keywords for your site. For us it’s not just about getting people to look at our site, but about conversions, getting people to join the community, ask questions, answer questions and most importantly, use the great design tool that we are making.
None of these goals can be achieved by optimizing for circuit circuit (other than my personal satisfaction in winning). There might be 10X the search volume, but it really doesn’t matter if the conversion rate is crap. There are a lot of things that go into setting up a site for success, and one of them is getting the right keywords to focus your energy on.
In my experience, the right keywords are not always the ones with the most monthly searches. I think this is something that a lot of people overlook when they are researching and selecting a set of keywords for their site. I am not going to make that same mistake. I am going to go for quality and breadth over sheer quantity. How are we going to do that you ask? Well, we are going to start by asking real people, our potential users, our customers what they would actually search for.
I know, I know, this is a novel idea, but I think we should give it a try – no matter how scary customers might seem. Then we are going to pour a couple hundred dollars into some Ad-words with the different combinations of keywords that we come up with, thanks to all the great people we talked with. And finally, we are going to measure the results, figure out what our conversion rates are, and do some good old fashioned math to get the optimal result … OK well a better set of results. This method is far from fool proof, but it is a plan! That is the plan as we move forward, and it is not a complex one, but I think that it is going to be effective! And Zak will be happy to hear that this will be my last attempt to climb the Google ranks for my new favorite search term circuit circuit.
We are Upverter. And we are going to do exactly as our name suggests
. We are going to make you faster. We are going to increase your quality of work. We are going to up your resolution. And no, we are not some sketchy set-top box from China
. We are the next big thing in electronic design tools.
You’re probably thinking the same thing we did back when we started on this project. EDA? Really? As if the world needs another piece of CAD software! Are these guys nuts? Yes. In a lot of ways we probably are
. But right here, right now, we don’t think so. And we want to tell you why, and a little about our motivation. We want to plant an idea in your mind. And over the next little while we are going to water and feed that idea. And assuming we can keep you interested, and keep that little idea growing inside your head, we think you’ll agree that there is a lot of work left to be done.
When we were writing this we iterated a little bit about how much to go on about
and the open-source software movement. In the end, we decided that enough people reading this would know what we meant, when we say that software like
and services like
have changed the world
. Free and opensource software is here to stay – and the world is a better place because of it
Along the same lines we wrote about
and asked when was the last time you looked something up in the
. But again it seems like the kind of thing where you would get the point before we got warmed up. When really the message is just that you don’t anymore. There is a place, a mecca of information, that is maintained by our peers for their peers and for the betterment of humanity
So instead we are going to get right to it. We have a dream. We want to tell you about a time that is to come – about a premonition of ours. In this dream it’s not a line of code shared that is making the world a better place, but a net. In this dream people don’t collaborate to make an encyclopedia, but a library of parts. In this dream we see a world where you can build on the successes and failures of your peers, rather than go it alone. And probably the coolest part, is that in this dream we see a community of kick-ass smart hackers empowered and armed instead of ignored because of a sales strategy. Its a dream about a better world. A friendlier world. A world where tools exist and people hack away, for the betterment of humanity.
We think it’s a pretty cool dream, and a pretty neat idea. And we are going to try and nurture it over the next little while. Someday we will tell you what we are up to, and when you get to play with it. But for now, we want to hear your thoughts and your dreams. We want to know what you think Open Source Hardware is. What you have done since the words got mashed together a few years back. And we want you to be part of the revolution (the resistance if you will).
We are Upverter, and we’re gonna make the world a better place.
Based on the
electronic term upverter
(combination of up and converter).
Our biggest competition in terms of the name when we chose it was a whole pile of very sketchy links to the Chinese manufacturing companies that built those magical HD set-top boxes that were so popular a few years back.
if you don’t know what we mean.
Zak’s personal blog
for more than enough evidence!
is the American software freedom activist who launched the
, he initiated the
free software movement
, and he founded the
Free Software Foundation
. He is basically the high-priest of all things free software (also
see his website
For those that don’t, here is your cheat sheet: free software. And not free like cheap, or free like
free like speech
is the most common and most industrial web server in the world, and its free and open source.
] was the first big community for hackers to share their open source projects, and is seen as a catalyst in the open source movement.
This is a
on why to use free and open source over conventional proprietary software.
See the book
The Cathedral and the Bazaar
] by Eric S. Raymond for why it happened. And the article
Open Source is World Changing
for why its better now.